Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 22 May 2008 - Strasbourg
Draft amending budget No 2/2008
 Mid-term review of industrial policy
 European Training Foundation (recast) ***I
 Lebanon
 Rising food prices in the European Union and developing countries
 Visa exemptions
 Burma
 Natural disaster in China
 Global treaty to ban uranium weapons
 REACH (Draft Test Methods Regulation)
 Animal health strategy 2007-2013
 EU strategy for third Aarhus Convention meeting
 Follow-up to the Paris Declaration of 2005 on Aid Effectiveness
 Sudan and the International Criminal Court (ICC)
 The arrest of political opponents in Belarus
 Rising tension in Burundi

Draft amending budget No 2/2008
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on Draft amending budget No 2/2008 of the European Union for the financial year 2008, Section III - Commission (9190/2008 – C6-0192/2008 – 2008/2080(BUD))
P6_TA(2008)0225A6-0188/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 272 of the EC Treaty and Article 177 of the Euratom Treaty,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(1), and particularly Articles 37 and 38,

–   having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2008, as finally adopted on 13 December 2007(2),

–   having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management(3),

–   having regard to Preliminary draft amending budget No 2/2008 of the European Union for the financial year 2008, which the Commission presented on 14 March 2008 (COM(2008)0150),

–   having regard to Draft amending budget No 2/2008, which the Council established on 14 May 2008 (9190/2008 - C6-0192/2008),

–   having regard to Rule 69 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A6-0188/2008),

A.   whereas Draft amending budget No 2 to the general budget 2008 covers the following items:

   Inclusion in the 2008 budget of unused appropriations for commitments for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), arising from delays in implementation of the first year of the multi-annual financial framework 2007-2013. This entails an increase in commitment appropriations of EUR 378 million for sub-heading 1b "Cohesion for Growth and Employment", and of EUR 393,6 million for heading 2 "Preservation and Management of Natural Resources",
   Modifications to the establishment plan of the European Medicines Agency (EMEA), following the creation of the "Paediatric Committee",
   Modifications to the establishment plan of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to take account of the creation of a European Data Centre for the Long Range Identification and Tracking of Ships (LRIT),

B.   whereas the purpose of Draft amending budget No 2/2008 is to formally enter these budgetary adjustments in the 2008 budget,

1.  Takes note of Preliminary draft amending budget No 2/2008;

2.  Approves Draft amending budget No 2/2008 unamended;

3.  Recalls that it had put part of the administrative expenditure linked with the structural funds and rural development in reserve in Budget 2008 in order to accelerate the approval of operational programmes;

4.  Notes that according to the regulations governing the territorial operational programmes, they shall be dealt by the Commission during a six-month period;

5.  Notes that the under-implementation in 2007 in headings 1b and 2 amounted to EUR 3 525 million, of which EUR 1 491 million were carried forward to 2008, and EUR 2 034 million should be transferred under point 48 of the Interinstitutional Agreement to later years;

6.  Notes with satisfaction that all operational programmes of the European Social Fund have been approved;

7.  Notes that some operational programmes of ERDF have not been dealt with by the Commission;

8.  Is worried about the delays in approval of operational programmes of rural development, one of Parliament's political priorities;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission.

(1) OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1. Regulation as last amended by Regulation (EC) No 1525/2007 (OJ L 343, 27.12.2007, p. 9).
(2) OJ L 71, 14.3.2008.
(3) OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p. 1. Agreement as amended by Decision 2008/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 6, 10.1.2008, p. 7).


Mid-term review of industrial policy
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on the mid-term review of industrial policy: a contribution to the EU's Growth and Jobs Strategy (2007/2257(INI))
P6_TA(2008)0226A6-0167/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the communication from the Commission entitled Mid-term review of industrial policy: a contribution to the EU's Growth and Jobs Strategy (COM(2007)0374) and the accompanying staff working document (SEC(2007)0917),

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Competitiveness Council of 22 and 23 November 2007,

–   having regard to the communication from the Commission entitled Small and medium-sized enterprises – Key for delivering more growth and jobs – A mid-term review of Modern SME policy (COM(2007)0592),

–   having regard to the communication from the Commission entitled A lead market initiative for Europe (COM(2007)0860),

–   having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2006 on a policy framework to strengthen EU manufacturing – towards a more integrated approach for industrial policy(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 30 November 2006 entitled Time to move up a gear – creating a Europe of entrepreneurship and growth(2),

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A6-0167/2008),

A.   whereas the Commission's mid-term review of industrial policy takes stock of the progress achieved in implementing the integrated approach to industrial policy as at 2005 and sets out the measures to be taken in the coming years,

B.   whereas industry in the EU contributes to more than 80% of private sector R&D expenditure and the innovative products it produces account for 73% of EU exports, thus playing an important role in the transformation of the EU into a knowledge-based economy,

C.   whereas, in comparison with other regions, such as the United States or Asia, industry in the EU is still relatively slow to adapt to changing market realities and new technological developments because of heavy market regulation,

D.   whereas trends such as globalisation, technological change and sustainable development offer important, as yet unexploited opportunities for the industrial sector in the EU,

1.  Welcomes the Commission's communication reviewing the progress made in implementing an integrated industrial policy and stresses that a prosperous industrial sector is essential for the achievement of the Lisbon goals;

2.  Notes the progress achieved with both horizontal and sector-specific actions and welcomes the new sectoral initiatives on food processing and electrical engineering;

3.  Regrets the weakness of the link between EU and national industrial policy and supports the Commission's and Member States' initiatives to strengthen this link;

4.  Believes that the main role of EU industrial policy is to put in place the right framework conditions for enterprise development, industrial investment, innovation and job creation, paying particular attention to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);

5.  Believes that an open and competitive internal market in services and industry contributes to the sector's potential for innovation and increases its competitiveness; takes the view that competition policy plays a crucial role in ensuring that consumers benefit from an open European market;

6.  Emphasises the importance of an efficient public procurement regime for the competitiveness of European industry; believes that pre-commercial public procurement is an important tool for boosting the innovativeness of European undertakings; encourages Member States to review their public procurement policies in this light and asks the Commission to promote the exchange of best practice in this area;

7.  Welcomes the Commission's proposals on consolidating the European market in defence equipment and improving the global competitiveness of the defence industry in the EU;

8.  Encourages the Commission to intensify its market monitoring of the supply chain of industrial and consumer goods, including downstream distributors and retailers, so as to ensure that competitive conditions exist at all stages of the supply chain;

9.  Calls on the Commission to step up its efforts to eliminate unnecessary administrative barriers that make access to the internal market difficult, to simplify and to improve the regulatory environment and to reduce the administrative burden on enterprises, inter alia by ensuring that progress is made on the 13 priority areas set out in the Commission's action plan to reduce the administrative burden and by implementing the second package of 'fast track' measures for removing administrative barriers;

10.  Urges the Member States to make progress towards setting and reaching ambitious national targets for the reduction of the administrative burden, in particular those that encourage the growth and development of SMEs, such as simplified reporting requirements and exemptions;

11.  Encourages the Commission to use a coherent approach to SMEs in all EU policies by properly applying the 'think small first' principle;

12.  Strongly supports the initiative for a 'Small Business Act for Europe'; believes that it should take the form of a legislative proposal and include new, concrete initiatives to reduce, through exemptions, the regulatory burden on SMEs, to facilitate their access to the internal market and to public procurement procedures and to ensure that they have adequate access to sources of finance and to research infrastructure;

13.  Emphasises the importance of the Basel II Agreement(3) in influencing bank behaviour and the willingness of banks to lend to relatively high-risk customers, including SMEs; regards this development as instrumental in supporting SMEs in investing in and carrying out business oriented research;

14.  Welcomes the partnership groupings established by the Commission, such as CARS 21 and the High Level Group on Textiles; believes that these groupings are important fora for strengthening EU industrial policy;

15.  Stresses the urgency of establishing an EU-wide market for venture capital by removing existing regulatory and tax obstacles to venture capital investments in Europe's most innovative small firms;

16.  Recalls the importance of modern standardisation systems, and encourages the Commission to speed up the implementation of 'new approach' standards, while respecting the needs of SMEs and strengthening the participation of SME representatives;

17.  Is of the opinion that the EU's environmental goals should not be seen as a threat to industry, but as an opportunity to gain a first mover advantage and make industry in the EU a world leader in environmentally friendly and socially acceptable technologies, products and services; stresses therefore, that the application of new technologies should be accompanied by measures to safeguard the international competitiveness of European enterprises;

18.  Considers that industrial development is closely linked to the existence of an efficient transport infrastructure at European level, that a properly performing transport infrastructure enables the development of industrial zones, including those outside cities, and that Member States should be able to use regional development funds in order to create industrial and technological parks in rural areas adjoining conurbations;

19.  Considers that the Commission's proposed action plan on sustainable industrial policy should put in place a framework for a gradual transition towards a low carbon and energy- and resource-efficient industry that will contribute to achieving the objectives in the fields of energy and climate change formulated by the European Council of 8 and 9 March 2007; believes that the 'lead market' initiative and the Standards Action Programme could play an important role in this;

20.  Especially stresses the need for sustainable and balanced development across the EU, both geographically and with regard to the scale of projects; believes that a truly balanced approach is the only way to stimulate the development of industry in the EU, provide new opportunities for job creation and promote successful regions within EU; believes that the 'clusters initiative' can constitute a powerful lever for innovation and sustainable regional development;

21.  Welcomes the significant contribution of cohesion policy to ensuring competition in the industrial sector, and encourages Member States to further focus their investments within the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund on fields which promote the growth of human capital, research, innovation, entrepreneurship and on assistance for SMEs;

22.  Points out that the impact of environmental legislation on the international competitiveness of energy intensive industries in the EU should be taken into consideration urgently in order to avoid carbon leakage and unemployment; in this connection urges the Commission to actively promote and support the setting up of global sectoral agreements that can reduce the environmental impact of specific industries worldwide while ensuring a level playing field;

23.  Supports the Commission in its move to subject all new legislative proposals to an intensive and rigorous impact assessment, examining, in particular, whether each proposal has any unfavourable implications for the functioning of the internal market or the competitiveness of European industry according to the sustainability principle;

24.  Draws attention to the current developments with regard to access to raw materials; points out that the EU is completely dependent on imports of several metals; calls on the Commission to propose an integrated approach to securing sustainable access to raw materials, improving resource efficiency and supporting the development of exploration technologies; calls on the Commission and the Member States to support and accelerate the realisation of the projects announced by the European Council as being of Community interest for energy safety and the diversification of the EU's energy sources;

25.  Recalls the important structural change brought about by the shift in employment towards industry-related services; therefore, supports the planned industry and services initiative that will analyse the service sectors and their impact on industrial competitiveness; draws the Commission's attention, in particular, to the improvement of the quality, productivity and value of services provided to industry, in particular knowledge-intensive business services;

26.  Welcomes the Commission's initiative on structural change which will facilitate the exchange of best practice among Member States; strongly encourages the Commission, in its review of its communication entitled Restructuring and employment − Anticipating and accompanying restructuring in order to develop employment: the role of the European Union (COM(2005)0120), to support the setting up of large partnerships at EU level as well as networks for the exchange of information and best practice among experts in Member States;

27.  Draws attention to the need for ongoing priority investment in education, training and research, and also to the dependence of industrial development and the competitiveness of EU products on the quality of human resources and global innovation in new products;

28.  Emphasises the fact that innovative products significantly strengthen the EU's competitive advantage, representing 73% of EU exports; notes, however, that the EU still lags behind the United States and Japan in innovation, especially in business R&D; believes, therefore, that Community funding programmes, such as the Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration activities and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, and the European Institute for Innovation and Technology, should be exploited to their fullest; in this respect, welcomes the 'lead market' initiative and the Standards Action Programme as contributions to unlocking market potential for innovative products and services in specific areas of significant value to society; urges the Commission to demonstrate its commitment to better regulation in this regard and cautions against favouring certain technological solutions over others;

29.  Considers that, in order to boost innovation throughout the EU, it is essential to support invention-related activities and protect the products of those activities; points, therefore, to the importance of a transparent, simplified intellectual property rights policy, and one that is actually enforced; calls on the Council to take action to introduce a Community patent as soon as possible and calls on the Commission to continue to combat counterfeiting and to work towards global solutions in this area, based predominantly on European models;

30.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ C 303 E, 13.12.2006, p.646.
(2) OJ C 316 E, 22.12.2006, p.378.
(3) International Convergence of Capital Measurement and Capital Standards: A Revised Framework, Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, June 2004.


European Training Foundation (recast) ***I
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Resolution
Consolidated text
Annex
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 22 May 2008 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Training Foundation (recast) (COM(2007)0443 – C6-0243/2007 – 2007/0163(COD))
P6_TA(2008)0227A6-0131/2008

(Codecision procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2007)0443),

–   having regard to Article 251(2) and Article 150 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C6-0243/2007),

–   having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 28 November 2001 on a more structured use of the recasting technique for legal acts(1),

–   having regard to the letter of 24 January 2008 from the Committee on Legal Affairs to the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs pursuant to Rule80a(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to Rules 80a and 51 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A6-0131/2008),

A.   whereas, according to the Consultative Working Party of the Legal Services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, the proposal in question includes no substantive amendment other than those identified as such in the proposal and whereas, as regards the unchanged provisions of existing texts, the proposal contains a straightforward codification of those texts without a change in substance,

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended below and as adapted to the recommendations of the Consultative Working Party of the Legal Services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission;

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend the proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and the Commission.

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 22 May 2008 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EC) No .../2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Training Foundation (recast)

P6_TC1-COD(2007)0163


THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 150 thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission║,

Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee(2),

Having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions(3),

Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty(4),

Whereas:

(1)  Council Regulation (EEC) No 1360/90 of 7 May 1990 establishing a European Training Foundation(5) has been substantially amended several times. Since further amendments are to be made, it should be recast in the interests of clarity.

(2)  The European Council meeting at Strasbourg on 8 and 9 December 1989 called upon the Council to adopt, at the beginning of 1990, the necessary decisions for the establishment of a European Training Foundation for Central and Eastern Europe, acting on a proposal from the Commission. To this end ║the Council adopted Regulation (EEC) No 1360/90, which established that Foundation, on 7 May 1990

(3)  Pursuant to a decision taken by common agreement between the representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting at Head of State and Government level in Brussels on 29 October 1993(6), the Foundation has its seat in Turin, Italy.

(4)  On 18 December 1989, the Council adopted Regulation (EEC) No 3906/89(7) on economic aid to the Republic of Hungary and the Polish People's Republic, which provided for aid in areas including training to support the process of economic and social reform in Hungary and Poland.

(5)  The Council ║ subsequently extended such aid to other countries of Central and Eastern Europe║.

(6)  On 27 July 1994, the Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 2063/94(8) amending Regulation (EEC) No 1360/90 with a view to including in the activities of the European Training Foundation the countries receiving assistance under the ║TACIS Programme║.

(7)  On 17 July 1998, the Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 1572/98(9) amending Regulation (EEC) No 1360/90 with a view to including in the activities of the European Training Foundation the Mediterranean non-member countries and territories which are beneficiaries of the financial and technical measures to accompany the reform of their economy and social structures pursuant to the Meda Programme.

(8)  On 5 December 2000, the Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 2666/2000(10) on assistance for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia amending Regulation (EEC) No 1360/90 with a view to including in the activities of the European Training Foundation the countries of the Western Balkans ║ covered by ║Regulation (EC) No 2666/2000.

(9)  External assistance programmes related to the countries covered by the activities of the European Training Foundation are to be replaced by new external relations policy instruments, mainly the instrument established by Council Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 of 17 July 2006 establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance(11) and the instrument established by Regulation (EC) No 1638/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 2006 laying down general provisions establishing a European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI)(12).

(10)  Through supporting human capital development in the context of its external relations policy, the European Union contributes to economic development in those countries by providing the skills necessary to foster productivity and employment and supports social cohesion by promoting civic participation.

(11)  In the context of those countries' efforts to reform their economic and social structures, the development of human capital is essential for attaining long-term stability and prosperity and in particular for achieving socio-economic equilibrium.

(12)  The European Training Foundation could make an important contribution, in the context of the external relations policies of the European Union, to improving human capital development, in particular education and training in a lifelong learning perspective.

(13)  For its contribution, the European Training Foundation will need to call upon the experience gained within the European Union in relation to education and training in a lifelong learning perspective and upon its institutions involved in this activity.

(14)  There exist in the Community and in third countries, including the countries covered by the activities of the European Training Foundation, regional and/or national, public and/or private facilities which can be called upon to collaborate in the effective provision of aid in the area of human capital development, in particular education and training in a lifelong learning perspective.

(15)  The status and structure of the European Training Foundation should facilitate a flexible response to the specific and differing requirements of the individual countries to be assisted, and allow it to carry out its functions in close cooperation with the existing national and international bodies.

(16)  The European Training Foundation should be endowed with legal personality, while maintaining a close corporate relationship with the Commission and respecting the overall political and operational responsibilities of the Community and its institutions.

(17)  The European Training Foundation should have close links with the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, with the Trans-European Mobility Scheme for University Studies (Tempus) and any other schemes instituted by the Council to provide aid in the area of training to the countries covered by its activities.

(18)  The European Training Foundation should be open to the participation of countries which are not members of the Community and which share the commitment of the Community and the Member States to the provision of aid to the countries covered by the activities of the European Training Foundation in the field of human capital development, in particular education and training in a lifelong learning perspective, under arrangements to be laid down in agreements between the Community and themselves.

(19)  The European Parliament, the Commission, and all the Member States should be represented within a Governing Board in order to oversee effectively the functions of the Foundation. ▌

(20)  In order to guarantee the full autonomy and independence of the Foundation, it should be granted an autonomous budget whose revenues come primarily from a contribution from the Community. The Community budgetary procedure should be applicable as far as the Community contribution and any other subsidies chargeable to the general budget of the European Union are concerned. The auditing of accounts should be undertaken by the Court of Auditors.

(21)  The Foundation is a body set up by the Communities in the sense of Article 185(1) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(13) (hereinafter "the Financial Regulation") and should adopt its financial rules accordingly.

(22)  Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 of 19 November 2002 on the framework Financial Regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 185 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(14) should apply to the Foundation.

(23)  In order to combat fraud, corruption and other unlawful activities the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 concerning investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)(15) should apply, without restriction, to the Foundation.

(24)  Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission(16) documents should apply to the Foundation.

(25)  Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data(17) should apply to the processing of personal data by the Foundation.

(26)  Since the objective of this Regulation, namely assistance to third countries in the field of human capital development cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore be better achieved at Community level, the Community may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiary as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Regulation does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve that objective.

(27)  This Regulation observes the fundamental rights recognised ▌by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular ▌Article 43 thereof,

HAVE ADOPTED THIS REGULATION:

Article 1

Subject matter and scope

This Regulation hereby establishes the European Training Foundation (hereinafter referred to as the "Foundation"), whose objective shall be to contribute, in the context of EU external relations policies, to improving human capital development ▌in the following countries:

   a) the countries eligible for support under ║ Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 and subsequent related legal acts;
   b) the countries eligible for support under Regulation (EC) No 1638/2006 and subsequent related legal acts;
   c) other countries designated by decision of the Governing Board on the basis of a proposal supported by two-thirds of its members and a Commission opinion, and covered by a Community instrument or international agreement that includes a component of human capital development, and as far as available resources allow.

The countries under (a), (b) and (c) are hereinafter designated as the "partner countries".

For the purpose of this Regulation, "human capital development" shall be defined as work that contributes to the lifelong development of each individual's skills and competences through the improvement of vocational education and training systems.

In order to achieve its objective, the Foundation may provide assistance to partner countries on:

   - facilitating adaptation to industrial changes, in particular through vocational training and retraining;
   - improving initial and continuing vocational training in order to facilitate vocational integration and reintegration into the labour market;
   - facilitating access to vocational training and encouraging mobility of instructors and trainees and particularly young people;
   - stimulating cooperation on training between educational establishments and firms;
   - developing exchanges of information and experience on issues common to the training systems of the Member States;
   - increasing the adaptability of workers, particularly through increased participation in education and training in a lifelong learning perspective; and
   - designing, introducing and implementing reforms in education and training systems, in order to develop employability and labour market relevance.

Article 2

Functions

For the purpose of achieving the objectives set out in Article 1, the Foundation, within the limits of the powers conferred on the Governing Board and following the general guidelines established at Community level, shall have the following functions:

   a) to provide information, policy analysis and advice on human capital development issues in the partner countries;
   b) to promote knowledge and analysis of skills needs in national and local labour markets;
   c) to support relevant stakeholders in partner countries to build capacity in human capital development;
   d) to facilitate the exchange of information and experience among donors engaged in human capital development reform in partner countries;
   e) to support the delivery of Community assistance to partner countries in the field of human capital development;
   f) to disseminate information and encourage networking and the exchange of experience and good practices between the European Union and partner countries and among partner countries on human capital development issues;
   g) at the Commission's request, to contribute to the analysis of the overall effectiveness of training assistance to the partner countries; and
   h) to undertake such other tasks as may be agreed between the Governing Board and the Commission, within the general framework of this Regulation.

Article 3

General provisions

1.  The Foundation shall have legal personality. It shall enjoy in each of the Member States the most extensive legal capacity accorded to legal persons under their laws; it may, in particular, acquire or dispose of movable and immovable property and may be a party to legal proceedings. It shall be non-profit making.

2.  The Foundation shall have its seat in Turin, Italy.

3.  The Foundation shall cooperate with the other relevant Community bodies, with the support of the Commission. The Foundation shall cooperate, in particular, with the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training ║in the framework of a joint annual work programme annexed to the annual work programme of each agency with the objective of promoting synergy and complementarity between the activities of the two agencies. 

4.  Representatives of the social partners at Community level already active in the work of Community institutions, and international organisations active in the training field, may be invited, where appropriate, to participate in the work of the Foundation.

5.  The Foundation shall be subject to the administrative control of the European Ombudsman, pursuant to the conditions set out in Article 195 of the ║ Treaty.

6.  The Foundation may establish cooperation agreements with other relevant bodies active in the human capital development field in the EU and internationally. The Governing Board shall adopt such agreements on the basis of a draft submitted by the Director after the Commission has delivered its opinion. The working arrangements contained therein must comply with Community law.

Article 4

Transparency

1.  The Foundation shall act with a high level of transparency and comply with the provisions under paragraphs 2 to 4.

2.  The Foundation shall make public within six months of setting up its Governing Board:

   a) its own Rules of Procedure and those of the Governing Board;
   b) its annual activity report.

3.  The Governing Board may authorise representatives of interested parties, in appropriate cases, to attend meetings of the Foundation's bodies in the capacity of observers.

4.  Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 shall apply to documents held by the Foundation.

The Governing Board shall adopt the practical arrangements for applying the said Regulation.

Article 5

Confidentiality

1.  Without prejudice to Article 4(4), the Foundation shall ║ divulge to third parties no confidential information that it has received and in regard to which confidential treatment has been requested and is justified.

2.  The members of the Governing Board and the Director shall be subject to the confidentiality requirement referred to in Article 287 of the ║ Treaty.

3.  The information gathered by the Foundation in accordance with this Regulation shall be subject to Regulation (EC) No 45/2001.

Article 6

Remedies

Decisions taken by the Foundation pursuant to Article 8 of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 may form the subject of a complaint to the Ombudsman or of an action before the Court of Justice of the European Communities, under the conditions laid down in Articles 195 and 230 of the Treaty respectively.

Article 7

Governing Board

1.  The Foundation shall have a Governing Board consisting of representatives of the Member States following the rotation stipulations of the Treaty of Lisbon regarding the appointment of Commissioners, three representatives of the Commission, as well as three experts appointed by the European Parliament. In addition, three representatives of the partner countries may attend meetings of the Governing Board as observers. Representatives may be replaced by alternates appointed at the same time.

2.  The Member States and the Commission shall each appoint their own representatives and alternates to the Governing Board.

The representatives of the partner countries shall be appointed by the Commission on the basis of a list of candidates proposed by those countries and of their experience and expertise in the Foundation's areas of work.

The Member States, the European Parliament and the Commission ▌shall endeavour to achieve a balanced representation of men and women on the Governing Board.

3.  The term of office of representatives shall be five years. It shall be renewable once.

4.  The Governing Board shall be chaired by one of the representatives of the Commission. The term of office of the Chairperson shall expire when their respective membership of the Governing Board ceases.

5.  The Governing Board shall adopt its Rules of Procedure.

Article 8

Voting rules and tasks of the Chairperson

1.  The representatives of the Member States on the Governing Board shall each have one vote. The representatives of the Commission shall share one vote.

Decisions of the Governing Board shall require a two-thirds majority of the members of the board entitled to vote, except in the cases referred to in paragraphs 2 and 3.

2.  The Governing Board shall determine, by a unanimous decision of its members entitled to vote, the rules governing the languages of the Foundation, taking into account the need to ensure access to, and participation in, the work of the Foundation by all interested parties.

3.  The Chairperson shall convene the Governing Board at least once a year. Further meetings may be convened at the request of a simple majority of those members of the Board who are entitled to vote.

The Chairperson shall be responsible for informing the board of other Community activities relevant to their work and the Commission's expectations concerning the Foundation 's activities in the forthcoming year.

Article 9

Powers of the Governing Board

The Governing Board shall have the following functions and powers:

   a) appoint and, where necessary, dismiss the Director of the Foundation in accordance with ║Article 10(5);
   b) exercise disciplinary authority over the Director;
   c) adopt the Foundation's annual work programme on the basis of a draft submitted by the Director of the Foundation after the Commission has delivered its opinion, in accordance with ║Article 12;
   d) draw up an annual estimate of expenditure and revenue for the Foundation and forward it to the Commission;
   e) adopt the Foundation's definitive budget and establishment plan following completion of the annual budget procedure, in accordance with ║Article 16;
   f) adopt the Foundation's annual activity report, in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 13 and send to the institutions and the Member States;
   g) adopt the Foundation's Rules of Procedure on the basis of a draft submitted by the Director after the Commission has delivered its opinion;
   h) adopt the financial rules applicable to the Foundation on the basis of a draft submitted by the Director after the Commission has delivered its opinion, in accordance with ║Article 19;
   i) adopt the procedures for applying Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, in accordance with ║Article 4 of this Regulation.

Article 10

Director

1.  The Director of the Foundation shall be appointed by the Governing Board for a period of five years on the basis of a list of at least three candidates submitted by the Commission . Before being appointed, the candidate selected by the Governing Board shall be invited to make a statement before the competent committee(s) of the European Parliament and answer questions put by its/their members. 

In the course of the nine months preceding the end of this period, the Commission shall undertake an evaluation on the basis of a prior evaluation by external experts, which shall assess in particular:

   - the performance of the Director; and
   - the Foundation's duties and requirements in the coming years.

The Governing Board, acting on a proposal by the Commission, taking into account the evaluation report and only in those cases where it can be justified by the duties and requirements of the Foundation, may extend the term of office of the Director once for not more than three years.

The Governing Board shall inform the European Parliament about its intention to extend the Director's term of office. Within a month before the extension of his/her term of office, the Director may be invited to make a statement before the competent committee(s) of the European Parliament and answer questions put by its/their members.

If the term of office is not extended, the Director shall remain in office until the appointment of his/her successor.

2.  The Director shall be appointed on the basis of merit, administrative and management skills and expertise and experience in the field of work of the Foundation.

3.  The Director shall be the legal representative of the Foundation.

4.  The Director shall have the following functions and powers:

   a) to prepare, on the basis of general guidelines established by the Commission, the annual work programme, the draft estimate of expenditure and revenue of the Foundation, its Rules of Procedure and those of the Governing Board, its financial rules and the work of the Governing Board, and any ad hoc working parties convened by the Governing Board;
   b) to take part, with no voting right ║, in meetings of the Governing Board;
   c) to implement the decisions of the Governing Board;
   d) to implement the Foundation's annual work programme and respond to requests for assistance from the Commission;
   e) to perform the duties of authorising officer, in accordance with Articles 33 to 42 of ║Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002;
   f) to implement the Foundation's budget;
   g) to put in place an effective monitoring system allowing the regular evaluations referred to in Article 24 to be carried out and, on that basis, to prepare a draft annual report on the Foundation's activities;
   h) to present that annual report to the European Parliament;
   i) to manage all staff-related matters, and, in particular, exercise the powers provided for in Article 21;
   j) to define the Foundation's organisational structure and submit it to the Governing Board for approval;
   k) to represent the Foundation before the European Parliament and the Council in accordance with ║Article 18.

5.  The Director shall be accountable for his/her actions to the Governing Board, which may remove the Director from his/her duties before his/her term of office has expired on a proposal of the Commission.

Article 11

Public interest and independence

The members of the Governing Board and the Director shall act in the public interest and independently of any external influence. To this end, they shall make a written declaration of commitment and a written declaration of interests every year.

Article 12

Annual work programme

1.  The annual work programme shall comply with the subject matter, scope and functions of the Foundation referred to in Articles 1 and 2 ║.

2.  The annual work programme shall be drafted within the framework of a four-year multiannual work programme in cooperation with the Commission services and with regard to the external relations priorities for the countries and regions concerned and on the basis of experience acquired in education and training within the Community

3.  The projects and activities in the annual work programme shall be accompanied by an estimate of the necessary expenditure and by allocations of staff and budgetary resources.

4.  The Director shall submit the draft work programme to the Governing Board after the Commission has delivered an opinion on it.

5.  The Governing Board shall adopt the draft annual work programme for the following year by 30 November at the latest. The final adoption of the work programme shall take place at the beginning of each year.

6.  Where necessary, the programme may be adapted during the year using the same procedure in order to ensure greater effectiveness of Community policies.

Article 13

Annual activity report

1.  The Director shall report to the Governing Board on the performance of his/her duties in the form of an annual activity report.

2.  The annual activity report shall contain financial and management information indicating the results of operations by reference to the annual work programme and the objectives set, the risks associated with those operations, the use made of the resources provided and the way the internal control system functioned.

3.  The Governing Board shall draft an analysis and an assessment of the annual activity report on the previous financial year.

4.  The Governing Board shall adopt the Director's annual activity report and forward it, together with its analysis and an assessment, to the competent bodies of the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission, the Court of Auditors and the European Economic and Social Committee by 15 June at the latest. The report shall also be forwarded to the Member States and, for information, to the partner countries.

5.  The Director of the Foundation shall present the Foundation's annual activity report to the relevant committees of the European Parliament and preparatory bodies of the Council.

Article 14

Links with other Community actions

The Commission, in cooperation with the Governing Board, shall ensure consistency and complementarity between the work of the Foundation and other actions at Community level, both within the Community and in assistance to the partner countries.

Article 15

Budget

1.  Estimates of all the revenue and expenditure of the Foundation shall be prepared for each financial year and shall be shown in the budget of the Foundation, which shall include an establishment plan, and each financial year shall correspond to the calendar year.

2.  The revenue and expenditure shown in the budget of the Foundation shall be in balance.

3.  The revenue of the Foundation shall comprise, without prejudice to other types of income, a subsidy from the general budget of the European Union (hereinafter referred to as "the general budget"), payments made as remuneration for services performed as well as finance from other sources.

4.  The budget shall also include details of any funds made available by the partner countries themselves for projects benefiting from financial assistance from the Foundation.

Article 16

Budgetary procedure

1.  Each year the Governing Board, on the basis of a draft drawn up by the Director, shall produce an estimate of revenue and expenditure for the Foundation for the following financial year. That estimate, which shall include a draft establishment plan, shall be forwarded by the Governing Board to the Commission by 31 March at the latest.

2.  The Commission shall examine the estimate, having regard to the proposed limits of the overall amount available for external actions, and enter in the preliminary draft general budget║ the resources it deems necessary for the establishment plan and the amount of the subsidy to be charged to the general budget║.

3.  The estimate shall be forwarded by the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council (hereinafter referred to as the "budgetary authority") together with the preliminary draft general budget║.

4.  The budgetary authority shall authorise the appropriations for the subsidy to the Foundation.

The budgetary authority shall adopt the establishment plan for the Foundation.

5.  The Foundation's budget and the establishment plan shall be adopted by the Governing Board. They shall become definitive after final adoption of the general budget. If necessary the budget and the establishment plan shall be adjusted accordingly.

6.  The Governing Board shall, as soon as possible, notify the budgetary authority of its intention to implement any project which may have significant financial implications for the funding of the Foundation's budget, in particular any projects relating to property such as the rental or purchase of buildings. It shall inform the Commission thereof.

Where a branch of the budgetary authority has notified its intention to deliver an opinion, it shall forward its opinion to the Governing Board within a period of six weeks from the date of notification of the project.

Article 17

Budget implementation and control

1.  By 1 March at the latest following each financial year, the Foundation's accounting officer shall communicate the provisional accounts to the Commission's accounting officer together with a report on the budgetary and financial management for that financial year. The Commission's accounting officer shall consolidate the provisional accounts of the institutions and decentralised bodies in accordance with Article 128 of the Financial Regulation.

2.  By 31 March at the latest following each financial year, the Commission's accounting officer shall forward the Foundation's provisional accounts to the Court of Auditors, together with a report on the budgetary and financial management for that financial year. The report on the budgetary and financial management for that financial year shall also be forwarded to the European Parliament and the Council.

3.  The Director shall implement the budget of the Foundation.

4.  On receipt of the Court of Auditors' observations on the Foundation's provisional accounts, pursuant to Article 129 of the Financial Regulation, the Director shall draw up the Foundation's final accounts under his/her own responsibility and forward them to the Governing Board for its opinion.

5.  The Governing Board shall deliver an opinion on the Foundation's final accounts.

6.  The Director shall, by 1 July at the latest following each financial year, forward those final accounts to the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, together with the Governing Board's opinion.

7.  The final accounts shall be published.

8.  The Foundation's Director shall send the Court of Auditors a reply to its observations by 30 September at the latest. He/she shall also send that reply to the Governing Board.

9.  The Director shall submit to the European Parliament, at the latter's request, any information required for the smooth application of the discharge procedure for the financial year in question, as laid down in Article 146(3) of the Financial Regulation.

10.  The European Parliament, on a recommendation from the Council acting by a qualified majority, shall, before 30 April of year N + 2, give a discharge to the Director in respect of the implementation of the budget for year N.

11.  The Director shall take all appropriate steps required, if necessary, by the observations accompanying the decision giving discharge.

Article 18

European Parliament and Council

Without prejudice to the controls referred to above and, in particular the budgetary and discharge procedures, the European Parliament or the Council may ask at any time for a hearing with the Director on any subject relating to the Foundation's activities.

Article 19

Financial Rules

1.  The financial rules applicable to the Foundation shall be adopted by the Governing Board after the Commission has been consulted. They may not depart from ║Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 unless specifically required for the Foundation's operation and with the Commission's prior consent.

2.  In accordance with Article 133(1) of the Financial Regulation, the Foundation shall apply the accounting rules adopted by the Commission's accounting officer so that its accounts can be consolidated with those of the Commission.

3.  Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 shall apply to the Foundation in its entirety.

4.  The Foundation shall respect the Interinstitutional Agreement of 25 May 1999 between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the Commission of the European Communities concerning internal investigations by the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF)(18). The Governing Board shall adopt the necessary measures to help OLAF carry out such internal investigations.

Article 20

Privileges and immunities

The Protocol on the privileges and immunities of the European Communities shall apply to the Foundation.

Article 21

Staff rules

The staff of the Foundation shall be governed by the rules and regulations applicable to the officials and other servants of the European Communities.

The Foundation shall exercise over its staff the powers devolved to the appointing authority.

The Governing Board shall, in agreement with the Commission, adopt the appropriate implementing rules in accordance with the arrangements provided for in Article 110 of the Staff Regulations of Officials of the European Communities and Article 127 of the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Communities. 

The Governing Board may adopt provisions to allow national experts from Member States or partner countries to be employed on secondment to the Foundation.

Article 22

Liability

1.  The contractual liability of the Foundation shall be governed by the law applicable to the contract in question.

2.  As regards of non-contractual liability, the Foundation shall, in accordance with the general principles common to laws of the Member States, make good any damage caused by the Foundation or its servants in the performance of their duties.

The Court of Justice shall have jurisdiction in disputes relating to compensation for any such damage.

3.  The personal liability of servants towards the Foundation shall be governed by the relevant provisions applying to the staff of the Foundation.

Article 23

Participation of third countries

1.  The Foundation shall be open to the participation of countries which are not members of the European Community and which share the commitment of the Community and the Member States to the provision of aid in the human capital development field to the partner countries defined in Article 1, under arrangements to be laid down in agreements between the Community and themselves, following the procedure laid down in Article 300 of the Treaty.

The agreements shall, inter alia, specify the nature and extent of and the detailed rules for the participation by those countries in the work of the Foundation including provisions on financial contributions and staff. Such agreements shall neither provide for third countries to be represented on the Governing Board with voting rights nor contain provisions that are not in accordance with the staff rules set out in Article 21║. 

2.  Participation of such countries in ad hoc working parties may be decided as necessary by the Governing Board without the need for an agreement.

Article 24

Evaluation

1.  In accordance with Article 25(4) of Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002, the Foundation shall regularly carry out ex ante and ex post evaluations of its activities where these necessitate significant expenditure. The Governing Board shall be notified of the results of those evaluations.

2.  The Commission shall, in consultation with the Governing Board, conduct an evaluation of the implementation of this Regulation, the results obtained by the Foundation and its working methods in line with the objectives, mandate and functions defined herein every four years. The evaluation shall be carried out by external experts. The Commission shall present the results of the evaluation to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee.

3.  The Foundation shall take all appropriate steps to remedy any problems which may come to light in the process of evaluation.

Article 25

Review

Following evaluation, the Commission shall present, if appropriate, a proposal for the revision of the provisions of this Regulation. If the Commission considers that the existence of the Foundation is no longer justified with regard to the objectives assigned to it, it may propose that this Regulation be repealed.

Article 26

Repeal

Regulations (EEC) No 1360/90, (EC) No 2063/94, (EC) No 1572/98, (EC) No 1648/2003 and Article 16 of Regulation (EC) No 2666/2000, as listed in Annex I, shall be repealed.

References to the repealed Regulations shall be construed as references to this Regulation and shall be read in accordance with the correlation table in Annex II.

Article 27

Entry into force

This Regulation shall enter into force on the 20th day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.

Done at

For the European Parliament For the Council

The President The President

ANNEX I

Repealed Regulation and successive amendments

Council Regulation (EEC) No 1360/90 of 7 May 1990

(OJ L 131, 23.5.1990, p. 1)

Council Regulation (EC) No 2063/94 of 27 July 1994

(OJ L 216, 20.8.1994, p. 9)

Council Regulation (EC) No 1572/98 of 17 July 1998

(OJ L 206, 23.7.1998, p. 1)

Article 16 of the Council Regulation (EC) No 2666/2000 of 5 December 2000

(OJ L 306, 7.12.2000, p. 1)

Council Regulation (EC) No 1648/2003 of 18 June 2003

(OJ L 245, 29.9.2003, p. 22)

ANNEX II

Correlation table

Regulation (EEC) No 1360/90

This Regulation

Article 1 introductory words

Article 1 end of introductory words

Article 1 first to fourth intent

Article 1 second sentence

Article 2

Article 3 introductory words

Article 3 a) to g)

Article 3 h)

Article 4(1)

Article 4(3) first sentence

Article 4(2)

Article 1 introductory words

Article 1 end of introductory words

Article 1 (a) to (c)

Article 1 second sentence

Article 2 introductory words

Article 2 (a) to (f)

Article 2 (g)

Article 3(1)

Article 3(2)

Article 3(3) first sentence

Article 3(3) second sentence

Article 3(4) and (5)

Article 4(1) to (3)

Article 4a(1)

Article 4a(2)

Article 4a(3)

Article 5(1)

Article 5(2)

Article 5(3)

Article 5(4) first subparagraph

Article 5(4) second subparagraph

Article 5(4) third and fourth subparagraphs

Article 5(4) last subparagraph

Article 5(5) and (6)

Article 5(7) to (10)

Article 6

Article 4(4) first subparagraph

Article 4(4) second subparagraph

Article 5

Article 6

Article 7(1)

Article 7(2) first and second subparagraphs

Article 7(2) third and fourth subparagraphs

Article 7(3)

Article 7(4) first sentence

Article 7(4) second sentence

Article 7(5)

Article 8(1) first subparagraph

Article 8(1) second subparagraph

Article 8(1) last subparagraph

Article 8(2) and (3)

Article 9

Article 7(1) first words

Article 7(1) end of first sentence and second sentence

Article 7(2)

Article 7(3)

Article 8 (partly)

Article 9

Article 10(1)

Article 10(2)

Article 10(3)

Article 10(4) to (6)

Article 10(1) first words

Article 10(1) end of first sentence, second sentence and second to fourth subparagraphs

Article 10(2)

Article 10(5) first sentence

Article 10(3)

Article 10(4) points (a) to (k)

Article 11

Article 12

Article 13

Article 14

Article 15

Article 16(1)

Article 16(2)

Article 16(3)

Article 16(4) to (6)

Article 11(1)

Article 11(2) and (3)

Article 11(4) to (10)

Article 12

Article 13

Article 14

Article 15

Article 16(1)

Article 16(2)

Article 17 (partly)

Article 18

Article 19

Article 17(3)

Article 17(1) and (2)

Article 17(4) to (10)

Article 17(11)

Article 18

Article 19(1)

Article 19(2) to (4)

Article 20

Article 21 first and second sentences and first words of third sentence

Article 21 last words of third sentence and last sentence

Article 22

Article 23(1) first subparagraph and first sentence of second subparagraph

Article 23(1) last sentence of second subparagraph

Article 23(2)

Article 24(1)

Article 24(2)

Article 24(3)

Article 25

Article 26

Article 27

Annex

(1) OJ C 77, 28.3.2002, p. 1.
(2) OJ C ...
(3) OJ C ...
(4) Position of the European Parliament of 22 May 2008.
(5) OJ L 131, 23.5.1990, p. 1. Regulation as last amended by ║Regulation (EC) No 1648/2003 ║ (OJ L 245, 29.9.2003, p. 22).
(6) OJ C 323, 30.11.1993, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 375, 23. 12. 1989, p. 11.
(8) OJ L 216, 20.8.1994, p. 9.
(9) OJ L 206, 23.7.1998, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 306, 7.12.2000, p. 1. Regulation as last amended by Regulation (EC) No 2112/2005 (OJ L 344, 27.12.2005, p. 23).
(11) OJ L 210, 31.7.2006, p. 82.
(12) OJ L 310, 9.11.2006, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1. Regulation as last amended by Regulation (EC) No 1525/2007 (OJ L 343, 27.12.2007, p. 9).
(14) OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 72.
(15) OJ L 136, 31.5.1999, p. 1.
(16) OJ L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43.
(17) OJ L 8, 12.1.2001, p. 1.
(18) OJ L 136, 31.5.1999, p. 15.


Lebanon
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on the situation in Lebanon
P6_TA(2008)0228RC-B6-0271/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the Middle East, in particular those of 16 January 2003 on the conclusion of an Association Agreement with the Republic of Lebanon(1), 10 March 2005 on the situation in Lebanon(2), 7 September 2006 on the situation in the Middle East(3) and 12 July 2007 on the Middle East(4) and its position of 29 November 2007 on the proposal for a Council decision providing Community macro-financial assistance to Lebanon(5),

–   having regard to UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 (2004), 1636 (2005), 1680 (2006), 1701 (2006), and 1757 (2007),

–   having regard to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an Association between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Lebanon, of the other part(6) (the Association Agreement),

–   having regard to Council Decision 2007/860/EC of 10 December 2007 providing Community macro-financial assistance to Lebanon(7),

–   having regard to the statement of 16 May 2008 by EU High Representative Javier Solana on the situation in Lebanon,

–   having regard to the Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the Middle East of 14 March 2008,

–   having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   extremely alarmed at the escalation of violence in Lebanon and deeply concerned by the institutional situation that arose in Lebanon following the failure of the presidential elections,

B.   whereas the recent violent clashes between Hezbollah and other militias in Beirut and in other parts of Lebanon, following the decisions taken by the Lebanese Government on 6 May 2008, and the violence that followed the dismissal of the general in charge of airport security and the ban on Hezbollah's communication systems, killed dozens and wounded hundreds of citizens,

C.   whereas the Lebanese Government, with the aim of putting an end to the fighting, has cancelled the decisions that led to the violence and put the Lebanese army in charge of resolving the crisis,

D.   whereas the Lebanese Parliament was not playing its constitutional role even before November 2007, when the mandate of the President of the Lebanese Republic came to an end, and whereas the country is in a state of institutional breakdown, which is having serious consequences in terms of democratic functioning,

E.   whereas Hezbollah is not only a political opposition party but also an armed group that controls a good part of Lebanon's territory, including the area inhabited by its Shi'ite communities,

F.   whereas, based on the initiative taken by the League of Arab States, the parties concerned reached an agreement on 15 May 2008 to end the armed clashes immediately, to resume the national dialogue centred on the questions of the national unity government and the new election law, and to restore normal life and the situation to that prevailing prior to the recent incidents,

G.   whereas the current political deadlock in Lebanon is paralysing the proper functioning of the country; whereas this political crisis poses a considerable threat to the fragile stability in Lebanon and in the region as a whole; whereas a stable, fully sovereign, united and democratic Lebanon is of crucial importance for the stability and peaceful development of the entire Middle East,

H.   whereas Lebanon is a country with strong political, economic and cultural links to Europe and is an important partner of the European Union in the Middle East; whereas a sovereign and democratic Lebanon can play a crucial role in the development of a strong Euro-Mediterranean Partnership,

I.   whereas Article 2 of the Association Agreement stipulates that relations between the parties thereto, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, are to be based on respect for democratic principles and fundamental human rights, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of the Agreement; whereas the Association Council is empowered to take the necessary measures, within the framework of the regular political dialogue provided for in the Agreement, to promote cooperation between the European Parliament and the Lebanese Parliament,

J.   whereas UN Security Council Resolution 1757 (2007) set up an international tribunal to try the persons responsible for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and for other political assassinations in Lebanon,

K.   whereas Lebanon still faces substantial financial and economic challenges; whereas on 4 January 2007 the Lebanese authorities adopted a comprehensive programme of socio-economic reforms; whereas macro-financial assistance amounting to EUR 80 million has been offered by the European Union, with a view to supporting Lebanon's domestic efforts to carry out post-war reconstruction and bring about a sustainable economic recovery, and thus alleviating the financial constraints on the implementation of the Government's economic programme,

L.   whereas more than 300 000 Palestinian refugees are still living in poor conditions in Lebanon; whereas the outbreaks of violence and the fights with the army that have taken place in some Palestinian refugee camps have made the situation in the country more strained,

M.   whereas the territorial integrity of the Shebaa farms is still a pending issue,

1.  Welcomes the Agreement reached in Doha on the election of General Michel Sleiman as President of the Republic in the coming days, the creation of a new National Unity Government and the adoption of the election law; calls on the parties to the Agreement to fully implement it; stresses the importance of the positive reaction given by the international community; congratulates the Lebanese parties on the Agreement, and the State of Qatar and the League of Arab States on the successful mediation;

2.  Stresses the importance of Lebanon's stability, sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity; points out that political stability in Lebanon should be built on the restoration of a climate of confidence between all the parties, the renunciation of violence and the rejection of external influence;

3.  Welcomes the positive way in which the army and security services contributed to putting an end to the recent developments; invites all the parties involved to support the Lebanese army so that it can guarantee fully the functioning, security, law and order, sovereignty and stability of Lebanon;

4.  Considers, therefore, that the security of the country and of all Lebanese people is dependent on the disarmament of all armed groups, especially Hezbollah, and control of the trafficking of arms to Lebanon; considers it vital that all weapons imported into Lebanon be directed only to the official Lebanese army; reiterates its call for the Lebanese Government to exercise, in cooperation with United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), full sovereignty and effective control over the borders and the territory of the country in this connection; calls in this regard on all parties to renounce violence, fully accept the rules of democracy and recognise all state authorities and institutions democratically elected, regardless of their ethnic, religious and party affiliation and origin;

5.  Recalls that the Association Agreement provides for a political dialogue between the European Parliament and the Lebanese Parliament on the basis of the establishment of political cooperation between the two institutions;

6.  Reiterates the importance of the role of UNIFIL; considers it vital that the Lebanese Government exercise full sovereignty and effective control over the country's borders and territory in all activities that fall under the jurisdiction of the state, in such a way as to guarantee the security of the country and its citizens;

7.  Reiterates its call for all the parties concerned to support the work of the international tribunal to try those responsible for the assassination of the former Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, and other politically motivated assassinations in Lebanon, and urges Syria to fully cooperate with it;

8.  Urges the Lebanese authorities to make every effort to put an end to all discrimination against the Palestinian refugees; reiterates its call for the international community to increase its assistance so as to arrive at a lasting settlement;

9.  Calls on Syria to refrain from all interference that can have a negative impact on Lebanese internal affairs and to play a constructive role in seeking to establish stability in the country; appeals to Iran and Syria to play a constructive role; calls on all parties concerned to comply with UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1701 (2006), with regard to respecting the independence, sovereignty, security and stability of Lebanon, recalling the ban on selling weapons to armed militias;

10.  Reiterates its support for the determination of the European Union to assist Lebanon in its economic restructuring; calls on the Council and the Commission to continue their efforts to support the reconstruction and economic recovery of Lebanon and to establish closer cooperation with civil society in the country, in order to promote further democratisation there;

11.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Secretary-General, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the Quartet Envoy to the Middle East, the President of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, the Government and Parliament of Lebanon, the President and Government of Syria, and the Government and Parliament of Iran.

(1) OJ C 38 E, 12.2.2004, p. 307.
(2) OJ C 320 E, 15.12.2005, p. 257.
(3) OJ C 305 E, 14.12.2006, p. 236.
(4) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0350.
(5) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0550.
(6) OJ L 143, 30.5.2006, p. 2.
(7) OJ L 337, 21.12.2007, p. 111.


Rising food prices in the European Union and developing countries
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on rising food prices in the EU and the developing countries
P6_TA(2008)0229RC-B6-0217/2008

The European Parliament,

–   whereas this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25(1) of which concerns the right to food,

–   having regard to the Conclusions of the 1996 World Food Summit and the objective of reducing by half the number of people suffering from hunger by 2015,

–   having regard to the obligations contained in the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, particularly Article 11 thereof on the right to food, to which all European Union Member States are States Parties,

–   having regard to the Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council, of 22 May 2008 in Geneva, on 'The negative impact on the realisation of the right to food of the worsening of the world food crisis, caused inter alia by soaring food prices',

–   having regard to the Joint Statement by the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission on the humanitarian aid of the European Union entitled "The European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid"(1),

–   having regard to Article 33 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to the ongoing "CAP health check",

–   having regard to the recent recommendations of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) on global food production, initiated and carried out with support from the United Nations Development Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Bank and other bodies of the international community,

–   having regard to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),

–   having regard to the current negotiations on the Doha Development Round,

–   having regard to the Kigali Declaration of 22 November 2007 for development-friendly Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), adopted by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly,

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2007 on rising feed and food prices(2),

–   having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas following years of static or falling commodity prices, increases in world wheat prices reached 181% over the 36 months leading to February 2008, rice prices have increased by 141% since January 2008 and overall global food prices have increased by 83%,

B.   whereas the increase in prices has put back the objectives of poverty reduction by 7 years, and whereas, according to World Bank calculations, over 100 million people in the developing world could be pushed deeper into poverty by spiralling food prices,

C.   whereas 854 million people in the world are hungry or malnourished (food insecurity), with 4 million more joining their ranks annually; whereas 170 million children are undernourished and 5,6 million children die each year as a result of malnutrition,

D.   whereas the current food crisis is also the consequence of increased speculation in agricultural and food commodities,

E.   whereas, according to the FAO, food represents 60-80% of consumer spending in developing countries and about 10-20% in industrialised nations; whereas the rise in food prices impacts most heavily on low-income households,

F.   whereas in recent decades the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization have imposed trade liberalisation in developing countries in order to impose a dominant model of large-scale, export-oriented agriculture at the expense of sustainable local food production and local food markets,

G.   whereas the price rises are exacerbating problems of accessibility, particularly for those on low or non-existent incomes,

H.   whereas demand for food is rising, especially in emerging countries such as China and India, as the world's population increases; whereas the planet, which according to the FAO can feed 12 billion people, is not short of food in overall terms; recalling that the wheat harvest and the rice harvest were very good in 2007; whereas only 1,01 billion tonnes of the 2007 harvest is likely to be used to feed people, while a large proportion will be used to feed animals (760 million tonnes) and some 100 million tonnes to produce agrofuels; whereas the latest estimates suggest that world cereal production should increase in 2008 by 2,6% to a record 2,164 billion tonnes; whereas, however, these estimates are dependent on favourable climatic conditions,

I.   whereas many developing countries are not realising their food production potential; whereas lack of investment in agriculture, rural development and training of farmers in developing countries and by international financial institutions have exposed small farmers in particular to unfair competition, which has increased their poverty and vulnerability and decreased their capacity to produce enough food,

J.   whereas one serious obstacle to increased agricultural output in developing countries is that small farmers often lack access to loans or microcredits for investment in improved seeds, fertilisers and irrigation mechanisms and the necessary range of crop protection tools to protect their harvests from pests and diseases, sometimes owing to the fact that they do not own their land and therefore do not have any collateral for loans,

K.   whereas the World Food Programme (WFP) has indicated that only USD 260 million of the USD 750 million needed to cover 2008 requirements has so far been firmly pledged,

L.   whereas the impact of rising commodity prices is becoming a destabilising force in the global economy and has already triggered riots in several countries,

M.   whereas rising food prices are intensifying the need for an integrated political response and a comprehensive strategy to tackle food problems,

The right to food

1.  Stresses the fundamental nature of the right to food and the need to improve access for all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life; underlines that states have the obligation to protect, respect and fulfil this fundamental human right; points out that the fact that 2 billion people still live in dire poverty and 850 million human beings go hungry each day demonstrates systematic violations of the right to food, as enshrined in international human rights law; calls therefore for adequate measures to implement the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the right to food; urges the Council to ensure coherence of all food-related national and international policies with obligations under the right to food;

2.  Calls on the Council, therefore, to step up its commitments to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by reaffirming funding commitments and adopting an EU MDG agenda for action at the June European Council; considers that this EU agenda for action should identify specific milestones and actions within time-frames in key areas such as education, health, water, agriculture, growth and infrastructure that will contribute to ensuring the achievement of the MDGs by 2015 with a view, among other objectives, to eradicating hunger by 2015;

3.  Is concerned by the effects of speculation in food commodities, including commodity hedge funds, on hunger and poverty; invites the Commission to analyse the effect of speculation on food prices and to come up with appropriate measures on the basis of this analysis;

4.  Points out that this food crisis is closely interconnected with the financial crisis in which liquidity injections made by central banks to prevent bankruptcies may have increased speculative investments in commodities; calls on the IMF and the Financial Stability Forum to assess this side-effect and take it into consideration when proposing global remedies;

5.  Recalls that those suffering the most from this crisis are the less-favoured layers of the population and therefore stresses the need for appropriate social policies to empower poor or deprived populations and mitigate the effects of the current food crisis;

Sustainable food production

6.  Emphasises that the supply of food to all people across the globe should take precedence over any other goal; stresses that food should be available at reasonable prices, as stated in Article 33 of the EC Treaty;

7.  Recalls the need to ensure internal and global regulation of agricultural markets in the interest of consumers, farmers" incomes, the processing industries and a sustainable EU food policy;

8.  Recalls that the primary goal of the CAP is to guarantee market stabilisation, supply security and reasonable prices for consumers and underlines the need for a CAP post-2013, in order to ensure the sustainable food policy of the EU, while respecting the sustainability, the security and the quality of agricultural products;

9.  Emphasises that the raw material cost is a relatively minor component of the total cost of many food products; calls on the Commission and the Member States to analyse the discrepancies between farm gate prices and those charged by the major retailers;

10.  Calls, therefore, for an impact assessment of the role of retailers in the food chain, as retail food prices have risen disproportionately compared with the cost of living; calls on retailers to pass on a fair price to producers, while at the same time providing consumers with reasonably priced food;

11.  Points out that current EU cereal stocks would last only 30 days, and questions whether our food stocks are at the right level, especially in view of possible crises; asks the Commission to develop strategies to set up food stocks to prevent future crises;

12.  Calls for better forecasting of agricultural output so as to be able to identify prevailing trends in world food supply much earlier;

13.  Stresses that the income situation of EU farmers must be respected; points out that with the rising costs of feed, energy, fertiliser and other inputs and with increasingly costly compliance standards, farmers need to see their revenue rise considerably if they are to continue to be able to meet the demand for food; points out that farm income has only increased slightly and that farmers in certain Member States have actually seen their incomes fall;

14.  Demands that the promotion of sustainable agricultural policies be included in all enlargement and neighbourhood instruments;

15.  Calls for third-country operators to be subjected to the same level of controls as EU producers, but recognises the need to help developing countries meet EU phyto-sanitary standards;

16.  Welcomes the decision of EU Agriculture Ministers to adopt the Commission's proposal to suspend set-aside obligations for 2008 and notes the Commission's estimates that this move will free up around 2,9 million hectares for grain production and increase this year's harvest by around 10 million tonnes;

17.  Calls on the Commission to carry out a food security impact assessment of current EU policies relating to the CAP, of renewable energy targets, of development aid and of international trade agreements, in order to improve global food security;

18.  Stresses that priority needs to be given to food over fuels, and that biofuel production should be linked to strong sustainability criteria; notes that in achieving the proposed biofuels target these criteria must be met;

19.  Accepts that EU subsidisation of crops intended for biofuel production is no longer justified, but emphasises in the strongest possible terms that only 2-3% of EU agricultural land is currently being used for this kind of production and media reports blaming biofuels for the current food crisis are exaggerated as far as the EU is concerned; agrees, however, that the policy in countries such as the United States of assigning more land for maize growing to produce bioethanol has had a knock-on effect on the price and availability of maize and other cereals on the global food market;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, nevertheless, to do more to promote the use and production of second-generation bioenergy which processes manure and agricultural waste materials, rather than primary agricultural products;

21.  Stresses in particular that high priority should be given to collecting municipal waste and agricultural and forest residues and converting them into gas; points out that this would allow appropriate technologies to be developed and give time to study the compatibility of food and energy production;

22.  Notes with serious concern that the cost of compound feed has risen by EUR 75 per tonne and is continuing to rise, owing to an acute shortage of feed grains, and that this represents an additional cost of EUR 15 billion to the EU livestock industry;

23.  Considers that the current crisis demands an immediate and thorough discussion among the EU institutions and the Member States on the role that modern biotechnology can play in ensuring the continued production of food at reasonable prices;

Better development policies

24.  Considers that a genuine fight against hunger requires a global sustainable development policy in order to enable developing countries to produce and supply their population with sufficient water and food;

25.  Supports developing countries in their endeavours to secure access to food for their local populations; believes that viable policy space must be further strengthened to allow for national rules and measures for the development of this sector; considers Malawi to be a positive example of a developing country where food production has been doubled in the last three years, and underlines that the EU is playing a role in supporting this development; calls on the Commission to provide assistance with making this phenomenon known, so that it can be taken as an example in other developing countries;

26.  Calls on the EU Member States and the international community to meet the extraordinary emergency appeal of the WFP as a matter of urgency and to assist it in facing up to the new challenges in the fight against hunger; considers, nevertheless, that dependence on food aid operations needs to be reduced, and stresses, therefore, the need for mid- and long-term action to prevent more damaging consequences and to tackle the root causes of this crisis;

27.  Calls for an urgent and substantial increase in investment in agriculture, aquaculture, rural development and agribusinesses in developing countries, focused on poor farmers and small-scale farming based on agro-ecological food production systems; recalls that 75% of the world's poor population lives in rural areas, but that only 4% of official development assistance (ODA) is dedicated to agriculture; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Member States to address the issue of agriculture more effectively in their development policies, to promote the adjustment of the programming of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) in close cooperation with developing countries and to readdress the country strategy papers in order to give higher priority to agriculture; underlines the role of NGOs and local authorities in finding innovative agricultural solutions in partnership with the populations of developing countries, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to support and promote their projects;

28.  Stresses the need to give small farmers in poor countries, who are mainly women, access to land, financial services and credit, high-yield seeds, irrigation systems and fertilisers; stresses that investment in the agricultural sector needs to focus more on irrigation, rural roads, research and local knowledge, training and exchange of best practice with a view to developing sustainable, efficient crop systems, clean drinking water and education, as well as on enhancing local production and market exchanges; calls on the Commission, therefore, to reinforce these areas in its actions and to support producer organisations, microcredit and other financial service programmes and increased investment in agriculture;

29.  Calls on the European Investment Bank (EIB) to investigate possibilities for the immediate setting up of a guarantee fund in support of national microcredit and loan schemes and risk-hedging schemes that operate close to the needs of local food producers, especially in poorer developing countries;

30.  Stresses the need for cooperation on climate change between the EU and the developing countries, particularly the need for technology transfer and capacity building; emphasises that climate change must be mainstreamed into all EU development cooperation, underlines that some simple safeguards would help farmers protect crops from droughts and other disasters, and calls on the Commission to explore them; calls on the international community to intensify its efforts to combat desertification, land degradation and drought so as to improve food security and access to water, especially in poor countries;

31.  Stresses the importance of appropriate investment in research aimed at achieving optimum harvests in all regions of the world;

32.  Calls, in particular, for any developments in GMOs and public debate thereon to be followed closely;

33.  Takes the view that countries must have the right to food sovereignty and food security, and that they are entitled to protect their markets against imports of subsidised products; takes the view that this subsidising of agricultural products for export destabilises local markets in developing countries;

Fair international trade

34.  Considers that the opening up of agricultural markets needs to be progressive, in accordance with the development progress of each individual developing country and based on socially fair and environmentally sound trade rules; notes that sensitive products that are basic needs for people in developing countries or of particular importance to food security and rural development in developing countries should be excluded from full liberalisation in order to prevent irreversible damage to local producers; stresses that the EU must promote a preferential and asymmetric system in trade negotiations with developing countries in order to allow them to keep certain supply-management and other development tools in their markets; points out that the least-developed countries have quota- and tariff-free market access to the EU, under the ´Everything But Arms" (EBA) agreement;

35.  Stresses that, in current Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations, the Commission's priority must be to respond to the development needs expressed by African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries; recalls that, in order to meet this challenge, EPAs must be accompanied by the promised new funding for Aid for Trade (EUR 2 billion a year by 2010) and by the promotion of regional integration;

36.  Stresses the need for a successful, balanced and fair outcome of the Doha Development Round; stresses that the results of the Doha Round should give positive incentives to the developing countries to invest in their agriculture and food production; invites the Commission to support proposals to include an action on staple food prices in the current WTO negotiation round;

37.  Renews its call for the Commission and the Council to promote Fair Trade and other ethical schemes that contribute to raising social and environmental standards by supporting small and marginalised producers in developing countries, decreasing volatility and guaranteeing fairer prices and income, and encourages public authorities in the EU to integrate Fair Trade and sustainability criteria into their public tenders and purchasing policies;

Promotion of democracy

38.  Underlines that the current food crisis demonstrates the need to promote political stability, regional integration, democracy and human rights, not only within the EU, but also worldwide; calls, therefore, on all relevant stakeholders to promote human and democratic values and the rule of law when addressing the current food crisis and tackling long-term food security problems;

o
o   o

39.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the World Bank, the G8, the United Nations Secretary-General and the United Nations General Assembly, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Pan-African Parliament (PAP).

(1) OJ C 25, 30.1.2008, p. 1.
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0480.


Visa exemptions
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on negotiations between the European Union and the United States with regard to visa exemptions (visa waiver)
P6_TA(2008)0230B6-0233/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Articles 2, 6, 24 and 29 of the Treaty on European Union and Articles 62, 63, 286 and 300 of the EC Treaty, which are the legal foundation for a European area of freedom, security and justice and for international negotiations with third countries and organisations,

–   having regard to the Council and the Commission statements of 6 March 2008 and 21 April 2008 to its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–   having regard to Rules 83 and 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas, since the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty in 1999, the Council has been responsible for establishing the rules on visas, including the list of third countries whose nationals must be in possession of a visa or are exempt from a visa requirement (Article 62(2)(b)(i) of the EC Treaty),

B.   whereas Community competence in visa matters includes the conditions under which visa-free status is given to nationals of third countries, and whereas such conditions must ensure equal treatment for all EU citizens, not only as regards the granting or denial of visa-free status per se, but also as regards the terms and conditions under which such status is given to, or withheld from, different Member States by third countries,

C.   whereas since 2001 the Council has exempted US citizens from the visa requirement(1); whereas unfortunately a comparable exemption does not apply to all EU citizens, as the US still maintains the visa requirement for nationals of some Member States (currently Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia), due to the fact that, among other things, the rate of visa refusal, which is based on non-transparent criteria, is, for most of these countries, greater than 3% of applications (10% under certain conditions),

D.   whereas since 2005 a reciprocity mechanism may be activated at Community level(2) following a notification from a Member State, contacts by the Commission with the third country concerned and a Commission report to the Council, which may then decide on 'a temporary restoration of the visa requirement for nationals of the third country in question',

E.   whereas even if reciprocity has been reached with several third countries, this is still not the case with the US, so that in 2006 the Commission proposed 'temporarily restoring the visa requirement for US nationals holding diplomatic and duty/official passports, in order to expedite progress towards reciprocity'(3); whereas, however, this symbolic proposal was not followed by the Council,

F.   whereas several Member States continued their direct bilateral contacts with the US administration notwithstanding the Community's clear competence in the matter,

G.   whereas the situation became legally complicated when the US, on 3 August 2007, with the enactment of Section 711 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007(4), namely the Secure Travel and Counterterrorism Partnership Act of 2007, reformed its visa waiver regime by adding seven security enhancements(5) so as to require all Member States wishing to be part of the visa waiver programme (VWP) to agree to sign a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and its binding implementing rules,

H.   whereas, even though the content of these so-called 'implementing rules' is still unknown to the EU institutions, it is clear from the MoUs that some of the new 'security enhancements' fall within the Community's competence (such as that concerning visa delivery or the 'Electronic System Travel Authorization' (ESTA) complementary future obligations), some within the EU's competence (such as on stolen passports(6), PNR data or Schengen crime-related data), and the remaining enhancements fall within the exclusive competence of each Member State (such as those linked to the criminal records of its own nationals or those providing for the presence of air marshals on transatlantic flights),

I.   whereas in order to resolve this issue and for all the Member States to participate in the reformed US visa waiver regime in 2009, the Council decided on a two-tier approach on 18 April 2008 by:

   a) giving the Commission a formal mandate to negotiate with the US on all Community-related issues and
   b) adopting the 'red lines' that the Member States must respect in their dialogue with the US before the conclusion of the EC/US negotiations; these 'red lines' outline what falls within EC/EU competence and what, since it falls within national competence, may be negotiated bilaterally and make it clear that, as far as bilateral negotiations are concerned, the Member States must respect the principle of loyal cooperation with the other Member States and the EU institutions as laid down in Article 10 of the EC Treaty and in a judgment by the Court of Justice (C-105/03) with regard to the fulfilment of obligations under the EU Treaty,

J.   whereas even for matters that fall within the exclusive competence of the Member States, the principle of loyal cooperation could be threatened by bilateral agreements containing different conditions for the granting of visa-free status to some Member State nationals, which would result in differing treatment of citizens between the Member States in the visa field; whereas the Commission should ensure the principle of loyal cooperation,

K.   whereas, in order better to protect US and EU citizens from the terrorist threat, transatlantic cooperation should improve: (a) the identification of the threat through joint analysis and broad information exchange, including exchange of best practice, within the framework of strict data protection measures, (b) coordination at EU and transatlantic level between law enforcement and intelligence agencies, while always respecting the rule of law, fundamental rights and privacy, and (c) operational capacity by means of closer cooperation between EU and US law enforcement and intelligence agencies, based on a deeper level of mutual trust between the different agencies and bodies involved,

L.   whereas the US Department of Homeland Security intends to implement air and sea biometric exit procedures by January 2009, the exit programme is considered to be a key provision in order to manage the VWP effectively and the US authorities intend not to extend the VWP to more of the United States' allies if the proposed exit procedures are not implemented by 30 June 2009,

1.  Considers that any form of direct or indirect discrimination between European citizens, including on the grounds of their nationality should be prohibited not only inside the European Union, as laid down in Article 12 of the EC Treaty, but also outside the European Union, notably when such discrimination is the consequence of a lack of coordination in international negotiations between the EU institutions and the Member States;

2.  Notes the fact that, for the first time, the US recognised the Community's competence to negotiate international visa policy agreements during the JHA Ministerial Troika on 13 March 2008 by agreeing in a joint statement to follow a 'twin track' approach; notes that the statement includes the words: 'those matters that fall within national responsibilities will be discussed with national authorities while those that fall within EU responsibility will be discussed with EU authorities'; considers that, in accordance with that statement, the US should from now on negotiate:

   with the Commission on visa matters, as is already the case for air transport(7),
   with the Council on EU policies on security-related matters (PNR Agreement or EU-US agreements on extradition and mutual legal assistance), and
   with the Member States on the presence of air marshals on transatlantic flights and on security-related issues in so far as they relate to their own nationals, under the same conditions;

3.  Reiterates that any agreement entered into by the EC/EU should comply with fundamental rights and individual freedoms as provided for in Article 6(2) of the EU Treaty, including the rights to privacy and data protection as provided for in:

   Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,
   Directive 95/46/EC and specific rules of Community law (and measures related to Schengen) when transfer to a third country is at stake,
   Council of Europe Convention no 108 on the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data and its Additional Protocol 181 regarding supervisory authorities and transborder data flows;

4.  Urges the Commission to include in the negotiations the exclusion of Europeans with HIV from the VWP, and ensure equal treatment of all Union citizens; agrees with the Commission that there are no objective reasons for a travel ban on HIV infected people (as stated in its reply of 19 February 2008 to parliamentary question E-6038/07);

5.  Endorses the mandate given by the Council to the Commission to negotiate an agreement securing visa waivers for all EU citizens entering the territory of the US, such as already apply to US citizens entering the territory of the EU; calls on the Commission to inform the competent parliamentary committee after each negotiation meeting (if necessary on a confidential basis);

6.  Considers that negotiations should be concluded before June 2009 and that, by then, no discrimination should be allowed between EU citizens;

7.  Shares the view that the Council's 'red lines' should be followed by the Member States(8) according to the principle of loyal cooperation provided for in Article 10 of the EC Treaty and also applicable, according to the case law of the Court of Justice (C-105/03 or the AETR case (22/70)), with regard to the fulfilment of the obligations embodied in the EU Treaty; stresses notably the fact that:

   participation in the VWP should create as soon as possible the same rights for all citizens of the Member States, under the same conditions, in terms of the status of their passports;
   any access for the US to EU/EC databases or information systems should be prohibited unless expressly permitted by EC law and, if so, should be commonly agreed to by the EU and based on full respect for the principle of reciprocity; the granting of access should therefore only be allowed as far as it is in line with the specific purpose of these EU information systems, as stated in their respective legal bases; in addition, an adequate level of protection must be ensured, in compliance with the criteria set forth in the relevant EU data protection instruments, whether general (Directive 95/46/EC) or specific (such as the Europol Convention, Eurodac Regulation and Schengen Convention);
   any extension to Interpol of the reporting of data on lost and stolen passports should be commonly agreed by the EU;
   airport security in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards is sufficiently guaranteed by the existing EC rules (US inspections might be agreed where there are direct flights between airports on EU territory and the US);
   any formal agreement on repatriation of EU citizens should be acceptable only on the basis of reciprocity, to be negotiated and concluded between the EC and the US;
   obligations relating to the possible introduction of an electronic system for travel authorisations for US citizens travelling to the EU should be negotiated by the EC;

8.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the United States Congress and the United States Secretary of Homeland Security.

(1) See Annex II to Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001.
(2) See Article 1(4) of the consolidated version of Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001.
(3) Second 'reciprocity' report, COM(2006)0568 of 3 October 2006.
(4) Accessible at: http://www.ise.gov/docs/nsis/Implementing911_Act.pdf.
(5) Four of them are mandatory such as: (1) an Electronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA) system; (2) more robust security data sharing efforts; (3) requirements for timely reporting of blank as well as issued lost and stolen passports; and (4) guarantees that VWP countries accept the repatriation of their nationals ordered removed from the United States. There are also three discretionary enhanced security factors to be taken into consideration when determining whether the 3% visa denial rate requirement can be waived: (1) airport security standards; (2) air marshals programs; and (3) standards for national travel documents.
(6) See Council Common Position 2005/69/JHA of 24 January 2005 on exchanging certain data with Interpol. (OJ L 27, 29.1.2005, p.61).
(7) The Open Skies Agreement (OJ L 134, 25.5.2007, p. 4).
(8) http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st07/st07337.en08.pdf.


Burma
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on the tragic situation in Burma
P6_TA(2008)0231RC-B6-0244/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Burma,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the extraordinary meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 13 May 2008 on the humanitarian situation in Burma/Myanmar,

–   having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 60/1 of 24 October 2005 on the World Summit Outcome, paragraph 139 of which endorsed the possibility of collective cohesive action against individual states where "national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crime, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity",

–   having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas on 2 and 3 May 2008 cyclone Nargis severely struck southern regions of Burma, including the country's main city Rangoon and the Irrawaddy Delta region, home to nearly half of the population of Burma,

B.   whereas the Burmese state media report 77 738 dead so far, with 55 917 missing, while independent observers and international aid agencies put the toll at at least 100 000 dead; whereas the UN estimates that between 1,6 and 2,5 million people were severely affected and urgently needed aid,

C.   whereas the ruling State Peace and Development Council ignored warnings and was exceptionally slow in reacting to the emergency and accepting foreign assistance: to date it has permitted only very limited deliveries of international humanitarian aid into the country, insisting that they must be distributed by the military, and has been delaying the issuance of visas to UN and other disaster relief and logistics experts,

D.   whereas humanitarian law dictates that delivery of humanitarian assistance must be neutral and independent,

E.   whereas the junta pressed ahead with the referendum on 10 May 2008, despite the plight of tens of thousands of people left stricken by the devastating cyclone, with the exception of the worst-hit districts, where it has been postponed until 24 May 2008, in spite of the call for its cancellation or postponement by the UN Under-Secretary -General for Humanitarian Affairs,

F.   whereas the Burmese Government has been blocking international aid efforts, with total disregarding for the fact that the lack of clean water, food and medical care is likely to cause infectious diseases, significantly increasing the number of victims,

G.   whereas ethnic nationalities, notably the Karen – who have already suffered from inordinate discrimination and deprivation – have been severely affected in the Delta area,

H.   whereas the operating environment for the provision of humanitarian aid has already been severely restricted since the issue of new guidelines by the Burmese Government in February 2006, resulting in complicated travel and monitoring procedures for foreign staff,

I.   whereas, two days after the cyclone, the Commission disbursed EUR 2 million to help meet the basic needs of the survivors in the disaster zone; whereas the current level of pledged EU aid amounts to EUR 17 million and could be raised to more than EUR 30 million if the Burmese leadership allowed international aid,

J.   whereas the Member of the Commission responsible for Development was not allowed to travel to the worst affected areas and his pledges for aid workers to be given better access to the Irrawaddy Delta have been ignored,

K.   whereas several governments, including those of EU Member States, have called for the principle of 'responsibility to protect', established by the UN to rescue the victims of genocide and crimes against humanity, to be applied in the case of Burma,

1.  Expresses its sincere condolences to and solidarity with the people of Burma and the numerous victims; expresses its sorrow for all those who are suffering the consequences of the disaster;

2.  Strongly condemns the unacceptably slow response to this grave humanitarian crisis by the Burmese authorities, which have put preservation of their own power before the survival of their citizens;

3.  Calls on the Burmese Government in the most strenuous terms to put its people's lives first and open cyclone-affected areas to international humanitarian aid operations, to immediately grant visas to aid workers, to allow UN and international humanitarian agencies to distribute the aid directly to those in need and to allow nearby countries to deliver aid by air and sea to the victims who cannot be reached quickly in any other way;

4.  Deplores the distorted priorities of the regime in pushing ahead with its so-called referendum on the sham constitution, and rejects the implausible outcome at a time when a large part of the country has been devastated and millions are suffering from what has been aptly described as a natural disaster turned into a man-made catastrophe;

5.  Reiterates that the sovereignty of a nation cannot be allowed to override the human rights of its people, as enshrined in the UN principle of 'responsibility to protect'; calls on the Government of the United Kingdom, which holds the May Presidency of the UN Security Council, to take urgent action to put the situation in Burma on the agenda of the Security Council, and calls on the Council to examine whether aid shipments to Burma can be authorised even without the consent of the Burmese military junta;

6.  Welcomes the agreement, reached at the summit meeting of ASEAN, India and China in Singapore on 19 May 2008, to allow the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to coordinate international relief efforts, as well as the decision to hold an international pledging conference in cooperation with the UN in Rangoon on 25 May 2008 in order to pool aid for the victims;

7.  Calls in this regard for a special fund to be set up as a matter of urgency under the auspices of the UN to facilitate the effective distribution of aid in the country;

8.  Urges the Governments of China and India to use their influence with the Burmese authorities in order to open Burma for immediate access by all possible humanitarian relief;

9.  Stresses the urgent nature of the assistance to be delivered to the suffering population as the weather conditions in the affected are worsening owing to the beginning of the Monsoon, which poses an additional threat to destitute survivors; considers it important to ensure that affected farmers receive assistance to be able to plant a new crop of rice in time so as to avoid another disaster;

10.  Expresses support for the efforts of the EU, the UN, individual countries and other international and non-governmental organisations to obtain access for humanitarian aid workers and stresses that, without the full cooperation of the Burmese authorities, there is a substantial threat of an even greater tragedy; sets great hopes on the forthcoming mission of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who has been invited for talks with the Burmese authorities; urges the UN Secretary-General to use his influence with the Burmese authorities in order to open Burma for immediate access by all possible humanitarian relief;

11.  Takes the view that, if the Burmese authorities continue to prevent aid from reaching those in danger, they should be held accountable for crimes against humanity before the ICC; calls on the EU Member States to press for a UN Security Council resolution referring the case to the Prosecutor of the ICC for investigation and prosecution;

12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the EU Special Envoy for Burma, the Burmese State Peace and Development Council, the governments of the ASEAN and ASEM Member States, the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD, the UN Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur for Burma.


Natural disaster in China
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on the natural disaster in China
P6_TA(2008)0232RC-B6-0242/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the extraordinary meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 13 May 2008 and the statement by the Commission on the situation in Sichuan Province in China,

–   having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas a severe earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale struck southwest China on 12 May 2008,

B.   whereas the earthquake killed tens of thousands of people, especially in Sichuan Province, and many people are still missing,

C.   whereas the geographical conditions in Sichuan Province render the rescue work difficult,

D.   whereas the Chinese Government has deployed exceptional emergency resources and personnel, including soldiers and medical personnel, who are working in the affected area,

E.   whereas the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has issued an emergency appeal for aid,

1.  Expresses its sincere condolences to and solidarity with the people of China and the numerous victims; expresses its sorrow for all those who are suffering the consequences of the earthquake;

2.  Welcomes the prompt response to the disaster by the Chinese authorities by means of their emergency operation;

3.  Notes with appreciation China's readiness to accept foreign assistance; calls on the Chinese government to facilitate the work of humanitarian relief and volunteer organisations in distributing aid, and to ensure access to aid for all those in need;

4.  Urges the Council and Commission to provide emergency aid, technical assistance and reconstruction aid to the affected area;

5.  Emphasises the urgency of supplying primary emergency humanitarian aid through the ECHO programme, backed by a large and adequate budget; notes the arrival of the Commission's humanitarian aid expert in Chengdu to assess needs;

6.  Supports the contribution which the Member States are making through the 'Civil Protection Mechanism', coordinated by the Commission, as well as other contributions to the relief efforts by the international community;

7.  Welcomes the fact that the Chinese and foreign media are being allowed to provide detailed and accurate information on the disaster;

8.  Underlines the importance of good governance in preventing and preparing for possible natural disasters; calls for development of technology for a comprehensive and effective early warning system to prepare populations to cope with earthquakes and other natural disasters;

9.  Welcomes the international community's efforts to make available their best practice in civil emergency and disaster relief work in order to help China and its people who have been affected by the earthquake; calls on the organisations involved to provide enough financial aid for the accomplishment of the commitments;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States and the government of China.


Global treaty to ban uranium weapons
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on (depleted) uranium weapons and their effect on human health and the environment – towards a global ban on the use of such weapons
P6_TA(2008)0233RC-B6-0219/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the harmful effects of the use of uranium (including depleted uranium) in conventional weapons,

–   having regard to the UN Secretary-General's speech on the occasion of the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict (6 November 2002),

–   having regard to UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/62/30, adopted on 5 December 2007, highlighting serious health concerns about the use of depleted uranium weapons,

–   having regard to Rule 108(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas (depleted) uranium has been widely used in modern warfare, both as ammunition against hardened targets in rural and urban environments and as hardened armoured protection against missile and artillery attacks,

B.   whereas, ever since its use by the allied forces in the first war against Iraq, there have been serious concerns about the radiological and chemical toxicity of the fine uranium particles produced when such weapons impact on hard targets; whereas concerns have also been expressed about the contamination of soil and groundwater by expended rounds that have missed their targets and their implications for civilian populations,

C.   whereas, despite the fact that scientific research has so far been unable to find conclusive evidence of harm, there are numerous testimonies as to the harmful and often deadly effects on both military personnel and civilians,

D.   whereas the last few years have seen great advances in terms of understanding the environmental and health hazards posed by depleted uranium, and whereas it is high time that this was reflected in international military standards, as they develop,

E.   whereas the use of depleted uranium in warfare runs counter to the basic rules and principles enshrined in written and customary international, humanitarian and environmental law,

1.  Urges the Member States to adhere to paragraph 1 of the above-mentioned UN resolution and to submit a report with their views on the effects of the use of armaments and ammunition containing depleted uranium;

2.  Recommends that the EU High Representative include in the forthcoming revised version of the European Security Strategy the need to give serious thought to the future utility of unguided munitions, as well as cluster bombs, mines and other weapons of indiscriminate effect, such as depleted uranium weapons;

3.  Requests the Council and the Commission to commission scientific studies into the use of depleted uranium in all regions where European and international military and civilian personnel have been deployed;

4.  Urges Member States, within the framework of future operations, not to use depleted uranium weapons in European Security and Defence Policy operations and not to deploy military and civilian personnel in regions where no guarantee can be given to the effect that depleted uranium has not been, or will not be, used;

5.  Urges Member States, the Council and the Commission to provide full information to their military and civilian personnel on mission, as well as to their professional organisations, about the probability that depleted uranium has been or might be used in their region of operations, and to take sufficient protective measures;

6.  Calls on the Member States, the Council and the Commission to establish an environmental inventory of depleted uranium-contaminated areas (including testing ranges) and to provide full support – including financial support – for projects that could assist victims and their relatives as well as for clean-up operations in the affected areas, should a negative effect on human health and the environment be confirmed;

7.  Strongly reiterates its call on all Member States and NATO countries to impose a moratorium on the use of depleted uranium weapons and to redouble efforts towards a global ban, as well as systematically to halt production and procurement of this type of weaponry;

8.  Calls on the Member States and the Council to take the lead in working – through the UN or through a 'coalition of the willing' – towards an international treaty establishing a ban on the development, production, stockpiling, transfer, testing and use of uranium weapons as well as the destruction or recycling of existing stocks, should there be conclusive scientific evidence of harm caused by such weapons;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, NATO and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the UN and the United Nations Environmental Programme, the European Organisation of Military Associations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Health Organization.


REACH (Draft Test Methods Regulation)
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on the draft Commission Regulation laying down test methods pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)
P6_TA(2008)0234B6-0237/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), establishing a European Chemicals Agency(1), and particularly Article 13 thereof,

–   having regard to the draft Commission Regulation laying down test methods pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) (CMT(2007)1792/7) (hereinafter the draft Commission Regulation),

–   having regard to the opinion delivered by the committee referred to in Article 133 of the REACH Regulation,

–   having regard to Article 5a(3)(b) of Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission(2),

–   having regard to Oral Question B6-0158/2008 by its Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,

–   having regard to Rule 108(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the draft Commission Regulation aims at

   transferring test methods currently contained in Annex V of Council Directive 67/548/EEC of 27 June 1967 on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances (3) to a new Commission Regulation, and
   including new or revised test methods which are currently not incorporated in Annex V of Directive 67/548/EEC but were to be included in Annex V as part of the 30th Adaptation to Technical Progress, by 1 June 2008,

B.   whereas the draft Commission Regulation is of particular importance also for legislation on other sectors, such as cosmetics(4) and pesticides(5), since the acts relating to them refer to test methods included in chemicals legislation,

C.   whereas the total number of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes in 2005 in the Member States was approximately 12 million(6) and a significant percentage of these animals were used for regulatory testing,

D.   whereas the protocol on protection and welfare of animals annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam provides that in formulating and implementing the Community's agriculture, transport, internal market and research policies, the Community and the Member States shall pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage,

E.   whereas the REACH Regulation lays down that, in order to avoid animal testing, testing on vertebrate animals for the purposes of the Regulation shall be undertaken only as a last resort, and that, in particular for human toxicity, information shall be generated whenever possible by means other than vertebrate animal tests, through the use of alternative methods, for example in vitro methods or qualitative or quantitative structure-activity relationship models or from information from structurally related substances (grouping or read-across),

F.   whereas Council Directive 86/609/EEC of 24 November 1986 on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States regarding the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes(7) stipulates that an experiment on animals shall not be performed if another scientifically satisfactory method of obtaining the result sought, not entailing the use of an animal, is reasonably and practicably available and that, in a choice between experiments, those which use the minimum number of animals, involve animals with the lowest degree of neurophysiological sensitivity, cause the least pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm and are most likely to provide satisfactory results shall be selected,

G.   whereas the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) validated a number of alternative methods in 2006/2007(8) which are, however, not included in the draft Commission Regulation,

H.   whereas the draft Commission Regulation furthermore contains one animal testing method which is obsolete, as the same draft Regulation also contains an alternative method for the same endpoint,

I.   whereas the Commission justifies the non-inclusion of the validated alternative tests by stating that they have not yet been approved for regulatory purposes,

J.   whereas the Commission defers to the OECD with regard to the regulatory acceptance procedure for three of the five tests,

K.   whereas the development and publication of an OECD Test Guideline (TG) generally takes a minimum of 3 years, as the relevant institutional bodies meet only once a year, and OECD TGs are not always implemented in the same manner by all OECD Member States,

L.   whereas the Commission has made it clear that it always tries to proceed first within the OECD framework; whereas this is contrary to EU legislation and the spirit of the cosmetics directive 76/768/EEC, which gives priority to the EU process,

M.   whereas the predetermined priority for the OECD process of regulatory approval entails at best lengthy delays, and may even prevent an alternative method from being put into practice,

N.   whereas there do not seem to be sufficient rules for an efficient preliminary analysis of regulatory relevance before ECVAM scientifically validates an alternative test,

O.   whereas the basic concepts of validation and legal acceptance are not used in a uniform manner at national, Community and international level and EU legislation does not provide any definition of 'validation' (or criteria for validators) or 'regulatory (or legal) acceptance'(9),

P.   whereas Commission Communication SEC(1991)1794 provides ECVAM only with a relatively weak mandate to validate alternative methods, although ECVAM has delivered highly appreciated and valuable output in recent years,

Q.   whereas validation is also carried out by other national and international bodies and, therefore, the need for formal validation and a type of validation/assessment appropriate for each sector/purpose should be assessed and clarified(10),

R.   whereas the internal regulatory acceptance procedure in the European Chemicals Bureau (ECB) after validation by ECVAM and before launching the procedure for possible inclusion of a test method in legislation seems to be inappropriate,

S.   whereas the conditions by which potentially far-reaching decisions under this procedure, such as questioning scientific validation by ECVAM or transferring validation and regulatory acceptance to the OECD level, are taken should be decided case by case in a transparent and accountable manner at political level,

T.   whereas it is not acceptable that timely inclusion of new alternative methods validated by ECVAM in the draft Commission Regulation is not yet possible due to delays brought about by the opaque, slow, cumbersome and partly inappropriate procedures for the regulatory acceptance of validated alternative methods to animal testing,

U.   whereas the problems identified in the area of chemicals legislation concerning validation and regulatory acceptance of alternative test methods might have an even larger dimension when other industrial sectors are taken into account,

1.  Refrains from opposing the adoption of the draft Commission Regulation in the light of the formal commitment received from the Commission in its letter of 5 May 2008 to make the following arrangements to streamline and speed up the Commission's internal procedures for the validation and regulatory acceptance of new alternative test methods:

   the Commission will introduce a 'preliminary analysis of regulatory relevance' in all cases to ensure that subsequent scientific validation focuses on test methods that have the best potential to be considered suitable for clearly identified regulatory purposes;
   the Commission will reduce the number of steps and establish new and clear deadlines to streamline and accelerate the current process, insofar as the role of advisory committees and consultation with Member States is concerned;
   all important procedural decisions to be taken by the Commission will be taken at Director-General level;
   the current reorganisation of the JRC Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) will make an important contribution to accelerating the on-going efforts to advance alternative methods, including their validation, via ECVAM. This will involve reinforcement of ECVAM's work through support by other IHCP teams. The IHCP is also developing an integrated testing strategy which will leverage the synergies of many complementary activities within the IHCP and allow a more holistic and effective approach to the question of risk assessment, which is central to the regulatory process, thus avoiding unnecessary internal transmission delays. The integrated testing team will, in 2009, consist of about 85 staff members (including the present 62 ECVAM staff members). As part of its contribution to streamlining the process from scientific validation to regulatory acceptance, IHCP will ensure close and consistent follow-up of the regulatory acceptance process both within the Commission and at the level of the OECD;
   the revised process will be more transparent. The procedures for regulatory acceptance of new test methods will be published on the Commission's website once the current review is formalised. The current status of proposed alternative methods will be posted on a specific website to be set up by the JRC allowing interested parties to track progress; the information will be regularly updated. This will happen from the moment any proposed new alternative method undergoes a preliminary regulatory analysis. The website will also include an indication of decisions not to proceed with a particular test method and the reasons why such decisions are taken;
   the Commission will ensure that stakeholders have the opportunity to intervene, as observers, in Competent Authorities' meetings and in Committees of the European Chemicals Agency (for industrial chemicals) when matters relating to validation of non-animal tests are concerned;
   in line with Article 13(2) of the REACH Regulation, the Commission will provide for a more transparent process involving consultation of stakeholders in the run-up to any proposal for an Adaptation to Technical Progress of the Test Methods Regulation;
   the Commission will make the necessary resources available to ensure that real improvements are achieved, in particular by inviting applications from qualified staff with the relevant expertise to be seconded to the OECD Test Guidelines Programme (TGP) in the near future. It will look into possibilities of providing financial support to the OECD TGP Secretariat, concentrating specifically on regulatory acceptance of alternative test methods;
   the Commission will monitor the OECD process closely in each individual case to make sure that following this route does not entail undue delays. This will include systematic stocktaking of the progress of each alternative method at regular intervals. Any unreasonable delays in relation to a particular method will result in the Commission launching the EU process for regulatory approval for the method in question;

2.  Understands that the streamlining and acceleration of the internal procedures apply to the entire process from validation to regulatory acceptance with no gaps;

3.  Calls on the Commission to ensure full stakeholder participation throughout the process from validation to regulatory approval;

4.  Urges the Commission to come forward with a proposal for the first adaptation to technical progress of the Regulation by the end of 2008 as the litmus test for the implementation of the commitments indicated in paragraph 1;

5.  Calls on the Commission to report to Parliament by the end of 2008 on the implementation of those commitments;

6.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 396, 30.12.2006, p. 1. Corrected in OJ L 136, 29.5.2007, p. 3. Regulation as amended by Council Regulation (EC) No 1354/2007 (OJ L 304, 22.11.2007, p. 1).
(2) OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23. Decision as amended by Decision 2006/512/EC (OJ L 200, 22.7.2006, p. 11).
(3) (OJ 196, 16.8.1967, p. 1). Directive as last amended by Directive 2006/121/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 396, 30.12.2006, p. 850).
(4) Council Directive 76/768/EEC of 27 July 1976 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to cosmetic products (OJ L 262, 27.9.1976, p. 169). Directive as last amended by Commission Directive 2008/42/EC (OJ L 93, 4.4.2008, p. 13).
(5) Council Directive 91/414/EEC of 15 July 1991 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market (OJ L 230, 19.8.1991, p. 1). Directive as last amended by Commission Directive 2008/45/EC (OJ L 94, 5.4.2008, p. 21).
(6) Commission's fifth Report on the Statistics on the Number of Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes in the Member States of the European Union, COM(2007)0675.
(7) OJ L 358, 18.12.1986, p. 1. Directive as amended by Directive 2003/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 230, 16.9.2003, p. 32).
(8) EpiDERM and EPISKIN (ECVAM/ESAC statement on 27 April 2007), Reduced Local Lymph Node Assay (ECVAM/ESAC statement of 27 April 2007), Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability (BCOP) and Isolated Chicken Eye (ICE) Tests (ECVAM/ESAC statement of 27 April 2007), Acute Toxicity for Fish (ECVAM/ESAC statement of 21 March 2006).
(9) European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing, First Annual Progress Report, December 2006, p. 19, http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/epaa/conf_2006.htm
(10) European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing, First Annual Progress Report, December 2006, p. 19, http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/epaa/conf_2006.htm


Animal health strategy 2007-2013
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on a new animal health strategy for the European Union 2007-2013 (2007/2260(INI))
P6_TA(2008)0235A6-0147/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication on a new Animal Health Strategy for the European Union (2007-2013) (COM(2007)0539) ("Animal Health Strategy Communication"), according to which "Prevention is better than cure", and the Commission staff working documents (impact assessment and summary of the impact assessment) accompanying that communication (SEC(2007)1189 and SEC(2007)1190),

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinion of the Committee on International Trade (A6-0147/2008),

A.   whereas animal health is closely linked to human health, owing to the possibility of direct or indirect transmission of certain diseases,

B.   whereas animal health is important in economic terms because animal diseases lower animal production and lead to animal death, culling and consequential economic loss,

C.   whereas animals are living, sentient beings and their protection and correct treatment is one of the challenges for a cultured and civilised 21st Century Europe,

D.   whereas major outbreaks of animal disease can often result in social dislocation and social problems in rural areas,

E.   whereas animal welfare is one factor, but not the only one, which contributes to animal health and is justified on ethical, social, moral and economic grounds, and must be based on solid scientific foundations,

F.   whereas trade is becoming increasingly globalised and the trade in animal products is on the increase, both within the EU and internationally,

G.   whereas there is a need for coordinated cooperation on animal health issues at EU and global level,

H.   whereas the effectiveness of action on animal health depends not only on the administrative measures taken but also on informed and committed cooperation between all stakeholders,

I.   whereas the best means of combating animal diseases is to prevent them from occurring in the first place, in accordance with the principles that 'prevention is better than cure' and 'vaccination is better than unnecessary culling',

J.   whereas there is no difference between the quality of products derived from (emergency) vaccinated animals and products derived from unvaccinated animals, but markets in and outside the EU may not accept products derived from (emergency) vaccinated animals and livestock farmers, and other operators need sufficient guarantees that markets would be ready to receive those products without price cuts, 

K.   whereas more open borders, increased global demand for food, global trade, global mobility of persons, global warming and illegal trade lead to increased animal health risks,

1.  Welcomes the development of a strategic approach to EU animal health policy and supports the overall aims, objectives and principles set out in the Animal Health Strategy Communication, which will enable the EU to reinforce its prevention mechanisms and preparedness in the face of the onset of new epizootic diseases;

2.  Invites the Commission to present an action plan, as envisaged in its Animal Health Strategy Communication;

3.  Alerts the Council and the Commission to the fact that it is impossible to comply with the 2007-2013 time frame laid down in Animal Health Strategy Communication given that the discussions relating to the Communication are still on-going and the basic legislation required for its implementation will not be in place until 2010 at the earliest;

4.  Calls, in this respect, for greater ambition and for a longer-term view from the Commission when bringing forward its legislative proposals, which will enable benefits to be derived from other discussions that will affect the EU's budgetary resources and political priorities in the future;

5.  Approves the expressed desire to build the new strategy/policy on a single legal framework for animal health in the EU that takes due account of the standards and guidelines of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE);

6.  Stresses that farmers, breeders and owners play an essential role in monitoring, maintaining and promoting the health of farm animals, and in the prevention and detection of disease;

7.  Emphasises the importance of the role to be played by the veterinary and the live-stock breeding profession, which should be at the forefront of the development and delivery of specialised and proactive services such as animal health planning; expresses its concerns about veterinary coverage of certain rural areas in the EU;

8.  Emphasises, further, the role of humans in the spread of animal diseases as a result of increased mobility;

9.  Agrees with the animal health strategy objective of investing more in preventive measures and a control system, thereby reducing the likelihood of disease breaking out; agrees with the principle that 'prevention is better than cure';

10.  Underlines that there is no difference between goods produced from vaccinated animals and those produced from non-vaccinated animals;

11.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that products from vaccinated animals (protective vaccination) can be marketed throughout the EU;

12.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the acceptance of products from vaccinated animals at international level;

13.  Endorses the vision and purpose set out in the Animal Health Strategy Communication, under which 'extensive stakeholder consultation' and 'a firm commitment to high standards of animal health' will facilitate both the establishment of priorities consistent with the strategic goals and a review of what constitute acceptable and appropriate standards;

14.  Welcomes the recognition in the Animal Health Strategy Communication of the crucial relationship between the health of animals and their welfare, and expects to see both matters interlinked in upcoming policy;

15.  Awaits with interest the outcome of the preparatory project on animal staging posts and the findings of a survey that will cover the needs and necessary means to improve animal health during transport and stays at control posts;

16.  Welcomes the fact that the strategy covers the health of all animals in the EU so that feral pets, which are not expressly referred to, are also covered if there is a risk that they may transmit diseases to other animals or to humans;

17.  Welcomes the Commission's intention to adopt a communication strategy on risk managed by stakeholders and consumers; points out that although Europe's livestock production is safer than ever and subject to rigorous checks, the public's perception of the sector is far from satisfactory, which, in the case of some recent crises, has already created problems for the market owing to a loss of confidence;

18.  Endorses the target population identified and addressed in the Animal Health Strategy Communication: animal owners, members of the veterinary profession, food chain businesses, animal health industries, animal interest groups, researchers and teachers, governing bodies of sport and recreational organisations, educational facilities, consumers, travellers, competent authorities of the Member States and the EU institutions, and considers it necessary to include representatives of the live-stock engineering profession;

19.  Points out that the animal health strategy should also cover the activities of abattoirs, animal transport businesses and animal feed manufacturers and suppliers, while taking account of the need for administrative simplification;

20.  Points out that the animal health strategy, with its preventive approach, should develop the necessary legal and financial measures both to monitor pets and stray animals and to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases and animal health problems; in particular, the strategy should include vaccination programmes and other preventive measures in connection with diseases transmitted by stray dogs and cats, especially where no vaccination is currently possible; urges the Commission to assess the possible economic and social consequences of the spread of zoonotic diseases and the mobility of people and their pets;

21.  Points out that the proposed strategy can produce positive results if clear and transparent arrangements are laid down for the funding of the individual measures, something that the Animal Health Strategy Communication fails to do; criticises the Commission for making no reference to the funding requirements for its policy in the above-mentioned Communication;

22.  Underlines, with a view to ensuring a level playing field, the need to clarify the role of the EU, the Member States and the agricultural sector in financing animal health measures, such as ensuring biological security on farms, vaccination programmes, scientific research and higher animal welfare standards, and calls on the Commission to clarify those issues in its animal health strategy;

23.  Draws attention to the fact that the common animal health policy is one of the most integrated EU policies and that most of its funding should be covered by the Community budget, which should not preclude the financial responsibility of the Member States and of farmers;

24.  Acknowledges that markets inside and outside the EU are nonetheless not always willing to import vaccinated and protected meat; stresses that livestock farmers and other market operators require guarantees that they will be able to sell their products without price reductions; regards this as a crucial issue which the Community must resolve quickly in order to guarantee the free movement of goods;

25.  Points to the growing problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics in several animal farming sectors, which can also lead to problems in respect of public health; urges the Commission, therefore, to present an analysis regarding this problem, where necessary accompanied by proposals within the framework of the animal health strategy;

26.  Voices its dissatisfaction at the indications that individual measures will be financed from existing funds, and calls on the Commission to advocate enhancing the possibilities of the current veterinary fund, preparing its arguments for the budget discussions that will be launched in 2009;

27.  Points to the importance of EU-wide coordination of animal health measures and calls on the Commission to play a more active coordinating role than it has done hitherto;

28.  Draws attention to growing animal health risks as a consequence of increasing global mobility, rising demand for food, growing international trade and climate change, and underlines the need for an adequate emergency vaccination strategy for both existing and emerging diseases;

Pillar 1 – Prioritisation of EU intervention

29.  Acknowledges the crucial importance of risk profiling and categorisation, including the determination of an acceptable level of risk for the Community and of the relative priority for action to reduce the risk; believes that efforts must be made to define clearly the situations in which the risk of disease is heightened and exceeds the acceptable level, as well as the consequences thereof;

30.  Points out that high stocking densities in intensive farming systems may increase the risk of disease spread and hamper disease control where inadequate disease control measures are in place, and that the same could happen in other farming systems if disease control measures are not well implemented;

31.  Points to the importance, in terms of controlling epidemic diseases, of the distance between farms;

32.  Acknowledges that the EU has in place strict regulations on animal transport, which meet the need for high animal welfare standards and disease prevention and control measures; urges that those high standards be fully implemented by all Member States; believes that the standards should be met by countries exporting animal products to the EU in order to promote and ensure high standards of animal welfare and health globally; points to the potentially heightened risks involved in the long-distance transport of live animals, which has the potential to spread disease and which hampers disease control where inadequate disease prevention measures are in place; is therefore of the opinion that sanitary and animal welfare rules concerning the transport of live animals should be intensely controlled and tightened if deemed necessary; calls for the swift introduction of an integrated electronic European animal registration system, including GPS tracking of lorries; believes that the quality of transport is more important than its duration for animal welfare;

33.  Believes that it is also necessary to take into consideration the fact that globalisation, climate change and the movement of people are factors favouring the spread of animal diseases, which makes controlling them more difficult;

34.  Stresses the need for a coherent communication strategy in regard to the new animal health strategy, which should involve close cooperation among all stakeholder organisations at EU, national and local level;

Pillar 2 – EU legal framework

35.  Shares the view that the current EU animal health framework is complicated and fragmented and needs to be simplified; takes the view that the fundamental rules governing action on animal health should, where possible, be set out in a single legislative act;

36.  Stresses, furthermore, that the replacement of the current set of inter-linked and inter-dependent policy measures with a single legal framework that takes particular account of the recommendations, standards and guidelines of the OIE and the World Health Organization/Food and Agriculture Organization Codex Alimentarius (the "Codex") should be a central plank of the strategy, without disregarding European rules such as transparency and the involvement of all stakeholders and while avoiding any deterioration in health status in the EU;

37.  Agrees that there is a need to ensure that unjustified national or regional animal health rules do not constitute an obstacle to the functioning of the internal market, and, in particular, that the resources deployed in response to the outbreak of disease are proportional to the threat posed and are not used for unjustified trade discrimination purposes, especially with regard to products derived from vaccinated animals;

38.  Takes the view that the EU legal framework should clearly, and in an appropriately flexible manner, lay down the obligations of owners of animals, including animals kept for non-commercial purposes, in risk situations, in such a way as not to give rise to unwarranted conflicts and disputes; believes that curbing diseases among wild animals is also a significant element of the preventive strategy;

39.  Agrees with the conclusions of the pre-feasibility study of 25 July 2006 on options for harmonised cost-sharing schemes for epidemic livestock diseases conducted by Civic Consulting in the context of the evaluation of the Community Animal Health Policy (CAHP) 1995-2004 and alternatives for the future, prepared on behalf of the Commission and as part of the pilot project on the financing of contagious animal diseases launched by Parliament in the 2004 budget, which called for the harmonisation of the cost-sharing systems established by Member States; notes, furthermore, that since cost sharing goes hand-in-hand with the sharing of responsibility, such systems require the full participation and commitment of all parties, including animal owners, and that new mechanisms should be introduced to involve stakeholders in decision-making regarding significant policy issues;

40.  Acknowledges the need to revise the current co-financing instrument, so that it is possible to ensure that all players assume their responsibilities and play a part in detecting and eradicating disease, and to prevent distortions of competition between farmers in different Member States; calls for the categorisation of animal diseases in the framework of future co-financing arrangements on the basis of the nature of the combat measures to be applied, risks to public health and other external effects; notes that compensation funds for animal owners based on a reserve system strengthen individual and shared responsibility;

41.  Fully shares the view that the compensation system should not be limited to providing compensation to owners of animals that are culled in response to the outbreak of disease, but should be combined with risk-prevention incentives based on a reduction in contributions to national or regional animal health funds by farmers who take extra risk reducing measures and promoting the use of (emergency) vaccination instead of stamping out, acknowledging that this would constitute an income guarantee for the owner of the (emergency) vaccinated livestock; takes the view that the same principle should also apply to Member States, as an incentive to reduce risk levels;

42.  Acknowledges, in view of the tight situation on the global market for animal feed, that European farmers have an urgent need of high quality, safe protein feed - in addition to fishmeal - at an affordable cost; at the same time, stresses the importance of the consistent application of the precautionary principle with respect to the reintroduction of animal protein into feed - other than for ruminants - and thus into the food chain, in line with the rationale behind the new animal health strategy that 'prevention is better than cure'; points out therefore the need for greater efforts to introduce effective control and monitoring mechanisms on the elimination of all pathogens during manufacture, to ensure traceability and to avoid the contamination and mixing of types of animal meal in imported feed or feed produced in the Member States;

43.  Calls on the Commission to carry out a comparative analysis of existing compensation systems in the Member States and on that basis to draw up an EU-wide framework model; calls on the Commission further to create a legal framework for an efficient cost-sharing scheme in the Member States in order to ensure that the direct costs for eradicating an animal disease are also co-financed by the sector;

44.  Points out the need for a substantial Community contribution in respect of major diseases in order to ensure equal treatment and opportunities where these are beyond the resources of the countries and producers concerned;

45.  Welcomes the Commission's undertaking to submit a report setting out the possibilities for an effective system of financial guarantees for feed business operators;

46.  Agrees that provision should be made in the EU legal framework for support for the possibility of covering indirect losses not resulting from disease-eradication measures alone; points out that indirect losses can, in some cases, be more severe than direct losses, and that provision should therefore be made for compensation for those losses; expresses its support, therefore, for more research into and Community support for the establishment of national insurance instruments by livestock farmers; notes, however, that private insurance might be a more efficient instrument for dealing with such losses in certain cases;

47.  Stresses that EU legislation is already based to a significant extent on compliance with OIE/Codex standards and that there is good reason to strive to comply fully with those standards and for the EU to promote its own animal health standards with a view to their adoption at international level; supports therefore, with a view to increasing the EU's negotiating power within the OIE, a possible EU membership of the OIE; stresses, furthermore, the importance of safeguarding the input of stakeholders at OIE/Codex level;

48.  Urges the EU to defend its high animal health and welfare standards at international level within the World Trade Organization, in order to increase animal health and welfare standards globally; acknowledges that EU producers face higher costs due to the higher EU standards in place and that they must be protected from imported animal products whose production is subject to lower standards;

49.  Welcomes the proposed steps towards an export strategy at Community level and stresses that the Commission should make every effort to improve access to third-country markets and to remove export barriers;

Pillar 3 – Animal-related threat prevention, surveillance and crisis preparedness

50.  Points to the need to improve the level of biosecurity on holdings and to encourage all operators to raise standards, while acknowledging that infectious diseases can strike on both small and large farms, on holdings where animals are kept for leisure, in zoos, in nature reserves, in slaughterhouses and during animal transport and transit; considers that measures such as the isolation of new animals brought to farms, the isolation of sick animals, and regulating the movement of people can have a major impact in restricting the spread of disease;

51.  Points out that keeping animals in the open is a defining feature of various production systems and is still particularly frequent in certain regions and for certain species; recognises that that practice is supported by the public and with public funds; points out that the practice may contradict the aims of biosecurity; takes the view that farmers should receive support from society in insuring against the higher risks for animal health associated with these types of livestock farming, and that the political objectives in the areas of animal health and animal protection should be aligned;

52.  Points out that training for farm managers and staff working on farms is crucial for animal welfare and animal health; is in favour, therefore, of supporting training and further training measures;

53.  Awaits the recognition of quality management systems for the categorisation of risk associated with different types of production systems; is convinced that stock-farming systems that are preferred by consumers and that pose certain problems with respect to biosecurity (free-range farming) can be made safer through appropriate management;

54.  Believes that tracing products, on the basis of identification and registration, is particularly important in animal health monitoring and disease prevention and food safety; supports, in this connection, action covering the compulsory electronic and DNA-based genetic identification and registration of animals at EU-level and the introduction of a comprehensive and secure animal movement monitoring system, but draws attention to the cost of such a system, particularly for farms working with economically unfavourable farm structures; calls on the Commission to help farmers cope with the high costs incurred through the procurement of the required equipment, by creating the possibility for Member States to incorporate such measures within their rural development programmes;

55.  Points to the large differences between Member States in the amount of bovine animals destroyed as a result of non-compliance with EU rules on identification and registration; awaits the explanation of the Commission for these differences within the EU;

56.  Shares the view that better border biosecurity is particularly important in view of the fact that the EU is the world's largest importer of food, including animal products; considers that, in view of the risk of infection-carrying or diseased animals being brought into the EU, veterinary and sanitary checks at EU borders need to be particularly thorough and stringent and should not be restricted simply to checking documents, but should also make it possible to ascertain whether animals have been reared in accordance with animal welfare standards laid down in EU legislation;

57.  Stresses the importance of animal health inspections within third countries and asks for an increase in the financial resources of the Commission's Food and Veterinary Office;

58.  Takes the view that veterinary and customs controls at EU borders should be particularly rigorous with a view to preventing the illegal importation of or trafficking in animals and animal products, given the major risk of spreading disease that such importation and trafficking entail; draws attention, in this connection, to the need for organisational, training and financial assistance to be provided to veterinary services at the EU's external borders, including its maritime borders, in particular in the new Member States, third countries neighbouring the EU, and developing countries; calls, furthermore, on the Commission and the Member States to draw up appropriate communication plans to inform people of the risks associated with the private import of animals and animal products;

59.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to establish mechanisms to ensure better coordination between customs services, veterinary services and tour operators in order to facilitate cooperation between Member States and with third countries;

60.  Calls on the Commission to step up significantly its cooperation with developing countries by providing them with technical assistance on the one hand to help them to meet EU sanitary standards and on the other hand to reduce the risk of spreading of animal diseases from those countries to the EU; believes that in veterinary cooperation with third countries priority should be given to countries bordering the EU;

61.  Stresses the importance of veterinary surveillance in crisis situations and the prevention thereof, as regards providing early warning and the prompt detection of animal-related threats; calls on the Commission, in this context, to examine the possible introduction of a system of farm audits for farms that are not regularly visited by veterinary professionals;

62.  Stresses the need for economic operators, members of the veterinary profession and their assistants, control bodies and other competent authorities to be provided with effective training to enable them to detect animal-related threats promptly, and for an update of EU minimum standards on veterinary training and support for such training at EU level, together with measures to ensure the implementation of those standards and the alignment, as swiftly as possible, of school and university programmes in this field; suggests, in this regard, that a European accreditation system of veterinary schools could help to achieve the objective of a high-level veterinary education;

63.  Strongly supports action to increase the use of (both suppressive and protective) emergency vaccinations, which should result in more effective disease prevention and containment as part of disease-eradication operations; draws attention to the fact that the introduction of an effective vaccination system requires income guarantees for owners of vaccinated animals who may face problems selling products from vaccinated animals and the provision of appropriate financial support in order to encourage the use of such a system and to ensure that products from vaccinated animals are not subject to any restrictions; considers it essential, furthermore, for EU vaccine banks to be expanded; also considers it necessary to apply all measures that can help to reduce the number of healthy animals slaughtered and disposed of, such as tests to prove that animals are free from pathogens, thus making normal slaughter possible;

64.  Supports the development of vaccination strategies for all relevant species and diseases;

65.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take measures in order to ensure the indiscriminate circulation of products derived from vaccinated animals, the absence of which has, to date, placed a major brake on the use of vaccination as a tool in combating the spread of contagious animal diseases; calls, therefore, inter alia, for a ban on consumer labelling of products derived from vaccinated animals, effective public communication strategies regarding the harmlessness of products derived from vaccinated animals and the conclusion of conventions on the free circulation of products derived from vaccinated animals between governments, farmers' organisations, consumer organisations and retail and trade operators;

66.  Takes the view that, in connection with action in response to the threat of a crisis, it is essential to ensure the availability of specialist knowledge and humane means of carrying out any necessary culling of animals that will spare them unnecessary suffering, in recognition of the fact that they are living, sentient beings;

67.  Points out that veterinary medicines and animal vaccines are an element of animal health, and responsibility within the Commission should be reorganised accordingly;

Pillar 4 – Science, innovation and research

68.  Stresses that scientific research plays an essential role in animal health systems, since it enables advances to be made, in particular in monitoring the diagnosis and control of animal disease, risk analysis, development of vaccines and tests and efficient treatment methods, which must be based on scientific knowledge; recalls, in this context, Parliament's amendment to the 2008 EU budget, increasing appropriations for the development of (marker) vaccines and testing methods; calls on the Commission to make effective use of those increased appropriations;

69.  Draws attention to the need for more detailed scientific research into the impact of feed on animal health and, indirectly, on human health;

70.  Believes that research into animal health and welfare conducted under the seventh framework research programme and other research conducted at national and EU level contributes to more effective action on animal health;

71.  Points to the need to strengthen the network of Community and national reference laboratories dealing with animal diseases, highlighting the networks that already exist, and agrees that scientifically uniform test methods which are 'trade compatible' (validated and accepted by the OIE and third country trade partners) should be applied;

72.  Emphasises the importance of pooling scientific information on animal health and welfare and points to the need for the development of the ERA-NET and European Technology Platform for Global Animal Health information platforms; suggests that the advantages and disadvantages of new and further developed diagnostic methods, such as for example Polymerase Chain Reaction, must be better communicated and used to benefit animals and humans, with a view to both animal protection and the worldwide supply of safe food for people, especially in the newer Member States;

73.  Stresses the importance of communicating with consumers in order to ensure that they understand the means by which animal diseases are spread and their enormous impact on, and thus their significance for, the supply of safe food;

74.  Strongly believes that the cloning of animals for economic purposes should be banned;

75.  Is concerned that European standards could be undermined by imports from third countries whose farmers do not face the same obligations with regard to animal health and welfare; asks the Commission to investigate ways in which to safeguard against such third country competition, including by considering import measures and raising the matter for debate in the relevant WTO fora;

76.  Considers that the delay in taking measures to ensure that imports of Brazilian beef come only from cattle that are free of foot-and-mouth disease risks undermining public confidence in the EU animal health regime;

77.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the outcome of WTO negotiations does not undermine the ability of European farmers to maintain and enhance animal health and welfare standards; considers that the possibility of subjecting imported products to the same requirements as European products is a major factor in ensuring a balanced outcome to the negotiations;

78.  Invites the Commission to ensure that eggs are designated as a sensitive product as an outcome of the WTO negotiations in order to protect the progress made on animal health and welfare in that area of farming;

79.  Is concerned at the growing evidence that links the increasing international trade in live birds and poultry products with the development and spread of diseases such as avian flu; asks the Commission to investigate this evidence and to bring forward appropriate policy proposals as necessary;

80.  Welcomes the Commission's intention to respect WTO commitments regarding sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, but considers that this should not preclude the possibility - specifically admissible under the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures - of introducing measures that lead to higher standards of protection where this is sufficiently scientifically justified; considers, in addition, that it is important to encourage the adoption of such measures at international level in order to ensure upward convergence;

81.  Believes that the new generation of Free Trade Agreements with India, Korea and the countries of south-east Asia should have a balanced chapter on SPS measures and animal welfare;

82.  Calls on the Commission to integrate animal health and welfare in all its development programmes, in order to achieve consistency with the internal approach and extend the benefits of those policies to partner countries;

83.  Urges the Commission to conclude veterinary protocols with potential export markets, such as China;

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84.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.


EU strategy for third Aarhus Convention meeting
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on the EU strategy for the third Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention in Riga, Latvia
P6_TA(2008)0236B6-0238/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters of 25 June 1998, and to the forthcoming third Meeting of the Parties (MOP-3), to be held in Riga, Latvia, from 11 to 13 June 2008,

–   having regard to Oral Question B6-0157/2008 by its Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,

–   having regard to Rule 108(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the Aarhus Convention entered into force on 30 October 2001,

B.   whereas the Convention celebrates its tenth anniversary in June 2008,

C.   whereas the Aarhus Convention was ratified by the European Community on 17 February 2005(1) and has been ratified by all but one of its Member States,

D.   whereas at present there are 41 parties to the Aarhus Convention,

E.   whereas Parliament and the Council have already adopted three legislative instruments to implement the Aarhus Convention(2) and whereas the adoption of a legislative instrument on access to justice in environmental matters is still being blocked by the Council(3),

F.   whereas the Aarhus Convention serves to enable public authorities and citizens to assume their individual and collective responsibility to protect and improve the environment for the welfare and well-being of present and future generations and thus to promote sustainable development,

G.   whereas the Protocol on pollutant release and transfer registers(4) contributes to increasing corporate accountability, reducing pollution and promoting sustainable development,

1.  Urges the EU to take a leading, transparent and constructive role in the negotiations and to contribute actively to the long-term strategic plan of the Convention, including the elaboration of a possibly wider scope for the Convention so that sustainable development in all its dimensions is covered by the same principles of transparency, participation and accountability;

2.  Believes that MOP-3 will provide a good opportunity both to review the progress which has been achieved so far and to reflect on future challenges; considers that securing effective implementation of the Convention should be the key priority for the future;

3.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the decisions taken at MOP-3 further implement and develop the Convention, and that synergies are created between the Aarhus Convention and the relevant multilateral environmental agreements;

4.  Urges the Commission and the Member States in particular to aim to ensure that:

   the long-term strategic plan includes provisions to increase the public's awareness of their rights and responsibilities under the Aarhus Convention;
   MOP-3 clarifies the conditions for the entry into force of the amendment on GMOs adopted in 2005(5) and any future amendments to the Convention, with a view to securing their early implementation;
   predictable, stable and adequate financial arrangements are adopted for the Convention;
   the compliance mechanism is further improved, on the basis of the experience gained;
   work on access to justice continues by ensuring that public authorities at all levels of government are fully aware of their obligations under the Aarhus Convention, and by encouraging public authorities to allocate the human, financial and material resources needed to fulfil their obligations;
   parties take the necessary legal and budgetary measures to guarantee that the third pillar of the Convention is fully implemented, effective remedies are provided for access to justice, and access to procedures is fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive;
   a Working Group is set up to assess the implementation of the public participation pillar of the Convention, if necessary leading to proposals for further improving the Convention;

5.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to resume the legislative work aimed at adopting a legislative instrument which implements Article 9 of the Convention within the European Union, since this last remaining pillar has not been fully transposed into Community law; welcomes the plan by the Commission to organise a conference on access to justice in June 2008 in order to give further impetus to the legislative work within the Community;

6.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to enhance synergies and links with other relevant international organisations and Conventions, in particular the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; considers, however, that the Aarhus Convention is the appropriate forum for deliberating on horizontal principles of public access to information, participation and access to justice in environmental matters;

7.  Calls on the Commission to set the public authorities in the Member States a good example by implementing the Aarhus Convention in a rigorous manner;

8.  Urges the countries which have not yet done so to ratify the Aarhus Convention and the Protocol on pollutant release and transfer registers, and to encourage other countries outside the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe to become parties to the Convention;

9.  Believes that Members of the European Parliament who are part of the EC delegation have an essential contribution to make, and therefore expects that they will have access to EU coordination meetings without speaking rights in Riga;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Secretariat of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, with the request that it be circulated to all non-EU contracting parties.

(1) Council Decision 2005/370/EC of 17 February 2005 on the conclusion on behalf of the European Community of the convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters (OJ L 124, 17.5.2005, p.1).
(2) Directive 2003/4/EC on public access to environmental information (OJ L 41, 14.2.2003, p. 26); Directive 2003/35/EC providing for public participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the environment (OJ L 156, 25.6.2003, p. 17), Regulation (EC) No 1367/2006 on the application of the provisions of the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters to Community institutions and bodies (OJ L 264, 25.9.2006, p.13).
(3) Proposal for a directive on access to justice in environmental matters (COM(2003)0624).
(4) Council Decision 2006/61/EC of 2 December 2005 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the UN-ECE Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (OJ L 32, 4.2.2006, p. 54)
(5) Approved on behalf of the European Community by Council Decision 2006/957/EC of 18 December 2006 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of an amendment to the Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters (OJ L 386, 29.12.2006, p. 46)


Follow-up to the Paris Declaration of 2005 on Aid Effectiveness
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on the follow-up to the Paris Declaration of 2005 on Aid Effectiveness (2008/2048(INI))
P6_TA(2008)0237A6-0171/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 177 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament entitled 'EU Code of Conduct on Division of Labour in Development Policy' (COM(2007)0072),

–   having regard to its resolution on EU's Aid for Trade of 23 May 2007(1),

–   having regard to its resolution on more and better cooperation: the 2006 EU aid effectiveness package of 28 September 2006(2),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission entitled 'EU Aid: Delivering more, better and faster' (COM(2006)0087),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament entitled 'Increasing the impact of EU aid: a common framework for drafting country strategy papers and joint multiannual programming' (COM(2006)0088),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament entitled 'Financing for development and aid effectiveness – the challenges of scaling up EU aid 2006-2010' (COM(2006)0085),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament entitled 'Accelerating progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals – Financing for Development and Aid Effectiveness' (COM(2005)0133),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee entitled 'Policy Coherence for Development - Accelerating progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals' (COM(2005)0134),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament entitled 'Translating the Monterrey Consensus into practice: the contribution by the European Union' (COM (2004)0150),

–   having regard to the joint statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on European Union Development Policy: 'The European Consensus' (the European Consensus for Development) signed on 20 December 2005(3),

–   having regard to the Rome Declaration on Harmonisation, adopted on 25 February 2003 following the High Level Forum on Harmonisation in Rome, and the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (Paris Declaration), adopted on 2 March 2005 following the High Level Forum on Harmonisation and Alignment for Aid Effectiveness in Paris (Paris High Level Forum),

–   having regard to Resolution A/RES/55/2 of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on the UN Millennium Declaration,

–   having regard to the Monterrey Consensus adopted at the UN International Conference on Financing for Development of 21-22 March 2002,

–   having regard to the main findings and recommendations of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in the 2007 Peer Review of the European Community,

–   having regard to the main findings of the 2007 study entitled 'How Effective is EU Aid on the ground' commissioned by its Committee on Development,

–   having regard to the UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2007,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Development (A6-0171/2008),

A.   whereas the current focus on aid effectiveness has led to the conclusion that development aid is underperforming as a result of too little coordination among donors and the existence of too many projects and programmes with different procedures,

B.   whereas this situation of underperformance leads to low levels of ownership, less effective programmes and developing countries being greatly overloaded with donor demands, a division between so called donor 'darlings' and donor 'orphans', and the neglecting of crucial sectors such as health, education and gender-friendly programmes,

C.   whereas the EU supplies more than half of all Official Development Assistance (ODA) in the world, has the capacity to become the most effective donor and should therefore assume an international leadership role to promote the reforms which are necessary in order to improve aid effectiveness,

D.   whereas the overarching objective of EU development policy is the eradication of poverty within the context of the new aid architecture, aiming at the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),

E.   whereas economic development, social development and environmental protection are interdependent elements which go hand in hand with sustainable development, which is the background to our efforts to improve quality of life for all, as provided for in Paragraph 36 of the Beijing Declaration adopted on 15 September 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing,

F.   whereas environmental protection is among the EU's priorities and whereas the Commission must therefore take this objective into account in all the policies it pursues in relation to developing countries,

G.   whereas the Commission wants to be a proponent of the aid effectiveness agenda, in respect of which it has two closely related aims: (i) to implement the Paris Declaration and improve the quality of its own aid programmes; and (ii) to help Member States to implement the Paris Declaration and improve their own aid effectiveness,

H.   whereas recent OECD figures show that, overall, EU aid decreased significantly in 2007,

I.   whereas the EU commitments to give more and better aid should include increasing its ODA to 0,56% of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2010, developing new and more predictable and less volatile aid mechanisms along with promotion of better coordination and complementarity by working towards joint multi-annual programming based on partner countries' plans and systems, further untying aid and reform of technical assistance to respond to national priorities; whereas between 2006 and 2007 the percentage of EU GNI devoted to ODA fell for the first time since 2000, from 0,41% to 0,38%, and whereas the EU must therefore redouble its efforts to attain the objective set in the MDGs of devoting 0,7% of the EU's GNI to ODA in 2015,

J.   whereas Article 180 of the EC Treaty, reinforced by Article 188 D added by the Treaty of Lisbon, requires that 'the Union's development cooperation policy and that of the Member States complement and reinforce each other', requiring the Member States and the Union to strive towards enhanced donor coordination and a better division of labour, which will contribute to greater aid effectiveness,

K.   whereas there is a risk that the ambitious objectives of the European Consensus for Development, including other political ones such as migration and trade, could dilute the focus on development and undermine the consensus achieved in the international aid agenda on poverty reduction as a result of lack of consistency between the various EU policies, and whereas in this context Paragraph 35 of the European Consensus for Development states that 'it is important that non-development policies assist developing countries' efforts in achieving the MDGs',

L.   whereas the brain drain has led to a critical shortage of health workers and other key skilled personnel in developing countries which in turn frequently prevents aid being effectively delivered on the ground,

M.   whereas the aid system is getting increasingly complex, marked by a proliferation of aid channels, fragmentation of aid flows, increased earmarking of aid, emerging economies becoming more powerful actors in their co-operation with developing countries, leading to the fragmentation of aid and overlapping donor activities at global, country or sector level,

N.   whereas in the coming years, one of the institutional challenges will be how to best integrate the 12 new members of the EU in their role as emerging donors, as some of these donors find it difficult to conform to the standard development co-operation guidelines of the aid system promoted by the OECD's DAC,

O.   whereas this situation could be an obstacle to effective aid provision,

P.   whereas the current system of allocating aid too often falls short, with many poor countries and critical areas, such as health, education, social cohesion and gender equality, receiving small aid allocations,

Q.   whereas the EU is committed to tackling the question of "orphaned" or neglected countries and sectors in the context of its above-mentioned Code of Conduct on Division of Labour in Development Policy, and is beginning to consider allocations for situations of fragility,

R.   whereas Parliament, through the scrutiny mechanism of the Development Cooperation instrument (DCI) established by the Regulation (EC) No. 1905/2006(4) (DCI Regulation), and individual Member States have expressed concern that the primary objective of poverty eradication is not always reflected in field delivery,

S.   whereas a large number of studies have shown that effective accountability for the use of aid involving citizen participation is one of the main indicators of aid effectiveness, but aid is still suffering from a lack of transparency and openness; whereas this lack of transparency hampers access to information for governments, local authorities and civil society in the recipient countries and in this sense constitutes a major obstacle to better appropriation of aid,

T.   whereas aid is often disbursed according to donors" own priorities and timetables, without making sufficient efforts to respect and conform to national planning and development priorities, or the national budgeting timeframe, which makes it very difficult for recipients to prepare effective budgets, or to plan ahead, and makes it hard for parliaments, civil society and others to monitor aid flows and effectiveness,

U.   whereas the use of country systems is a key component of aid effectiveness and is deemed to be an important means of increasing partner countries' ownership of policy design and delivery; whereas, therefore, using country systems is expected to strengthen partner countries' national development strategies and implementation frameworks,

V.   whereas according to a recent Survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration by the OECD, the lack of demand-driven technical assistance is a key issue for developing country governments due to the fact that much technical assistance continues to be tied and overpriced, and is often ineffective at building local capacity, which is addressed by Article 31 of the DCI Regulation,

W.   whereas the role of national parliaments is paramount for raising awareness and pushing for reform of the aid architecture, i.e. through the debate and approval of development frameworks and budgets, allocation of funding to poverty related sectors, promotion of the division of labour and holding governments to account for delivering on the Paris Declaration,

X.   whereas local authorities are key players in development policies, as their expertise and knowledge of local needs enable them to convey, on a daily basis, the expectations of the people and to bridge the gap between the latter and the state,

Y.   whereas the role of civil society is essential, both as a partner in the political dialogue on aid effectiveness and setting aid priorities, and as a "watchdog" for monitoring government spending,

Z.   whereas the DCI provides for no more than 15% of the thematic credit line for non-state actors and local authorities to be assigned to the latter and whereas this favourable trend, which is likely to render aid more effective, should be accompanied by greater recourse to decentralised cooperation on the part of Member States,

AA.   whereas the EU must ensure that the aid effectiveness agenda resulting from the Third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness to be held in Accra in September 2008 is focussed on the reduction and, in the long term, the eradication of poverty,

AB.   whereas both improving the quality of aid and increasing the quantity of aid are vital for achieving the MDGs and aid effectiveness cannot be a pretext for not reaching the commitments that the Member States made under the above-mentioned Monterrey Consensus,

AC.   whereas the European Consensus for Development recognises gender equality as a goal in its own right and commits the EU to strengthening its approach to gender equality in all EU development cooperation and whereas the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council entitled 'Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development Cooperation' (COM(2007)0100) commits EU donors to ensure the effective implementation of strategies and practices that genuinely deliver for women,

AD.   whereas local, national, regional and global peace is attainable and is inextricably linked to the advancement of women, as they are a fundamental force not only for family life and the education of children but also for public initiatives, conflict resolution and the promotion of lasting peace at all levels, as indicated in Paragraph 18 of the above-mentioned Beijing Declaration,

1.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission together to make every effort to ensure that the EU speaks with one voice, to align aid delivery with partner countries' priorities and to make their actions more harmonized, transparent, predictable and collectively effective;

2.  Stresses that the Commission will need to maintain the integrity of the development agenda and a clear focus on the ultimate objective of poverty eradication, and emphasise the effective implementation of priority policies, including a clear focus on results;

3.  Stresses that the rise in the prices of raw materials played a crucial role in triggering the current global food crisis, which is in danger of wiping out all the efforts already made to improve the effectiveness of aid, and calls on the Commission and each Member State to support any measure which can help to stabilise raw material prices for developing countries;

4.  Calls on the Commission to help integrate new members into the increasingly co-ordinated international approaches to development policy and delivery with the appropriate mechanisms, to work with new Member States to set out how they will meet the EU's additional objectives on aid effectiveness agreed at the Paris High Level Forum, and to explore the way forward for possible joint programming exercises; recalls in this context that the new Member States have committed themselves to ODA targets of 0,17% of GNI by 2010 and 0,33% by 2015, while their future contributions must reinforce the role of the EU in development cooperation;

5.  Recognises the crucial role of democratic ownership and parliamentary oversight within developing countries for ensuring aid effectiveness, the need for the EU to provide resources and capacity development support to developing country parliaments to ensure that they have sufficient capacity to engage in scrutiny and oversight of their governments' budgets and the importance that better reporting of the results to the European Parliament, civil society and the Member States can help build confidence in Community programmes, increase accountability and permit more strategic forms of oversight; in this respect, calls on the Commission to propose a new indicator to monitor parliamentary scrutiny;

6.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States jointly to identify performance indicators focused on the MDG indicators, in particular with regard to budgetary aid, so that national parliaments, local authorities and local civil society, as well as the European Parliament, can trace back the results of EU contributions;

7.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that EU policies as well as the aid architecture support the Paris Declaration principle of managing for results, particularly to achieve results in the MDGs least likely to be fulfilled according to the UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2007, such as the Fifth MDG;

8.  Calls on the Commission to devise a matrix of all the financial instruments from which it has awarded funds for good governance, whether from the European Development Fund (EDF), the DCI, the EU-Africa Strategy or the funding allocated to African governments for good governance, in order to check the consistency of policies and the sound management of these funds;

9.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to support the creation and implementation of innovative financing mechanisms to contribute significantly to attaining the MDGs within the deadlines set; stresses that these additional resources cannot replace the commitments already made in terms of public development aid;

10.  Supports the choice of the Commission increasingly to use budget support, but at the same time encourages the Commission to investigate further the challenges of this aid modality;

11.  Calls on the Member States and their national parliaments to promote the division of labour agenda, in particular as set out in the above-mentioned Code of Conduct on Division of Labour in Development policy, and to make actionable plans for how they intend to implement them in order to improve the European aid efforts, whilst ensuring that this agenda is driven by partner countries and not donors alone;

12.  Stresses that the division of labour should be country-led, based on the Paris Declaration principles and results-focused and lead to sufficient financing of all sectors in each partner country;

13.  Supports the revision and extension of the Donor Atlas initiative in order to promote a more coherent cross-country policy dialogue between the European donors;

14.  Recalls that corruption diverts the funds intended for development and, therefore, is a major obstacle to greater aid effectiveness; calls on the Commission to improve monitoring of the allocation of development aid and to encourage aid recipients to ratify and apply strictly the international and regional agreements applicable to this field;

15.  Calls on the Commission to ensure greater accountability as well as transparency of countries' public financial management systems where there is assurance that aid will be used for the purposes intended, in order to facilitate both ownership and poverty reduction;

16.  Calls on the Commission and Council to take practical measures to fight corruption, particularly by supporting civil society initiatives intended to ensure transparency of the use made of the aid provided by the EU and by urging all Member States and partner States to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption of 2003;

17.  Supports the role that the Commission is playing in order to co-ordinate development cooperation among Member States in headquarters and in the field and emphasises the added value provided by the Commission in taking a leading role in the political dialogue between the EU and the partner countries, based on the EU's common values such as the promotion of human rights and gender equality;

18.  Calls on the Commission to continue to simplify procedures, including aid delivery processes, to further decentralise responsibility and to provide the delegations with sufficient capacity (in terms of staff and skills) and to control or influence as required by necessity the shape and approval procedure of the thematic and regional budget lines to fulfil their responsibilities; highlights the importance of equipping the future European External Action Service with sufficient development-oriented capacity;

19.  Calls on the Commission also to encourage regular contact and shared work between its delegations and civil society and local authorities, in order to take better account of the needs and priorities of the partner countries and thus promote better appropriation of aid, which is the principal objective of the Paris Declaration;

20.  Stresses the need to improve the guidelines and methodology for monitoring the Paris Declaration in order to improve collective understanding of the agenda set up by the Paris High Level Forum and ensure the consistent aggregation of information on indicators across the main countries receiving aid; highlights the need to ensure that donor countries fulfil their aid promises and calls on Member States to provide better access to their relevant data to facilitate greater transparency and accountability on aid reporting; stresses therefore the need to use precise indicators for interim assessments, the results of which will permit the readjustment and/or intensification of the actions necessary to attain the objectives set for 2010;

21.  Stresses the need to draw up a medium-term monitoring plan to review progress and promote action-oriented steps to encourage reliance on country-level monitoring, enable synergies between national and international monitoring efforts, and reduce potential duplication of efforts in the monitoring of the Paris Declaration commitments made by the EU;

22.  Calls on the Commission to improve the clarity of the definitions relating to the ODA sectoral allocations so as to improve consistency of the results and reduce the transaction costs of managing the Commission and Member States' data at country level; calls on the Commission to ensure that there is no widening of ODA definitions to include non-aid items such as military spending;

23.  Calls on the Commission and Member States, in accordance with the commitment given at the World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen of 5-12 March 1995, to comply with the call by civil society organisations for at least 20% of development aid to be devoted to improving basic public services such as education, health, access to water and sanitation;

24.  Calls on members of the OECD's DAC, which is the relevant authority, to formulate as soon as possible a definition of development cooperation which can put a permanent end to the diversion of aid in favour of purposes which have nothing to do with development, as this diversion is made possible only by the extremely broad nature of the current official definition of development aid;

25.  Calls on the Commission and the Members States to untie completely their aid, in particular technical assistance, food aid and food transport aid, in line with the OECD's DAC recommendation of 2001 for countries eligible under the EDF and with Article 31 of the DCI Regulation;

26.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to phase out policy-oriented conditionality, especially economic policy conditionality, to support a common understanding on key priorities, and to use their influence to convince the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to support the same position; asks particularly that the "aid for trade" strategy benefit all developing countries, and not only those agreeing to a greater liberalisation of their markets, notably in the context of Economic Partnership Agreements;

27.  Stresses the need for the international financial institutions and donor countries to publish the conditions for granting development aid, so that genuine democratic control can be exercised by parliaments, local authorities and civil society;

28.  Stresses the need to disburse aid according to partners' own priorities and timetables, and conform to national planning and development priorities, or the national budgeting timeframe;

29.  Stresses that better co-ordination between the Commission and the Member States should tackle the problem of orphan countries and sectors, and emphasises the relevance of an updated and refined version of the Donor Atlas in this connection;

30.  Stresses the need for improvement in progress towards achievement of the health MDGs, particularly in relation to situations of fragility, and for the Commission's DG for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and DG Development to co-ordinate their work throughout the humanitarian aid phase, the transitional phase and the development phase (linking relief, rehabilitation and development) as stated for instance in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid(5);

31.  Stresses the need to intensify the Commission's consultations with civil society partners in headquarters and in the field through better-structured meetings on policy, strategic programming and aid effectiveness issues including requirements for calls for proposals, disbursement procedures, financial control of projects, monitoring and evaluation processes; calls on donors and partner governments to ensure the full and meaningful participation of civil society and local authorities in the planning, implementation, monitoring and assessment of development budgets and programmes and to support the conditions that are necessary to fulfil their roles;

32.  Stresses that the involvement of women and women's movements in the formulation and delivery of policy and programmes, implementation, monitoring and evaluation should be seen as an integral part of ensuring real ownership, given the disproportionate impact of poverty on women;

33.  Stresses the need to involve local authorities of both Member States and EU partners in the process of achieving the goals of the Paris Declaration, particularly at all stages of the formulation, implementation and assessment of development policies;

34.  Recalls the decisive role which can be played by members of diasporas in improving the effectiveness of European aid and therefore calls on the Commission and the Member States to involve them more in planning and implementing European development programmes; stresses that the involvement of foreigners or people of foreign origin in a partnership between the EU and their country of origin is a powerful factor of integration;

35.  Considers that increasing transparency of information on aid flows is a critical objective for improving the effective use of aid and mutual accountability, and ensuring that there is timely public dissemination of complete information on all aid committed, allocated and disbursed, including publishing reliable country-by-country timetables, for aid commitments and expenditure, that there should be automatic, timely and proactive disclosure by Member States and partners of all documents related to the planning, execution and evaluation of aid strategies and projects, and that this disclosure should include publication of information that permits public participation in decision-making, in languages and forms that are appropriate for the stakeholders concerned;

36.  Calls on the Commission and the Members States to make progress in this area by supporting the establishment of accounting standards for disclosure requirements in respect of external assistance and by working with civil society organisations, national parliaments, local authorities and international organisations to set out good practice in recording aid flows in national budgets;

37.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to align their aid to the country systems by using general and sectoral budget support, which has to be based on a solid poverty reduction plan that strengthens domestic accountability and which has to be linked to the shared commitment on reducing poverty and achieving the MDGs, on respecting human rights and on strengthening and improving monitoring, financial management and accountability;

38.  Stresses the need for incremental and predictable funding from the Commission and the Members States, in the form of multi-year (3 years or more) aid commitments, which are based on clear and transparent criteria and poverty eradication outcomes including specific sectoral outcomes, agreed with partner countries, and which are delivered on schedule, in a transparent manner so as to allow investment in building the human resources so vital for improving aid effectiveness; welcomes the initiative of MDG contracting to ensure a more predictable form of budget support in the longer term; insists however that this involves a strong commitment to achieving the MDGs by partner countries and that continuous monitoring with a strong focus on results is needed; welcomes the MDG contract as one of the possible ways to increase the predictability of aid;

39.  Notes that, in most developing countries, most of the MDG targets will not be met by 2015; and urges Member States to prepare annual timetables to meet the promises they have made;

40.  Recognises the importance of setting targets in order to achieve gradually a situation in which 100% of technical assistance is demand-driven and aligned to partners' national strategies;

41.  Stresses that technical assistance planned in the light of the needs expressed by recipient countries and civil society organisations rather than the priorities of donor countries should make it possible to increase both the capacities of the EU's partners and local appropriation;

42.  Notes that aid reform is only one of the steps that the EU must take along with making its trade, security, migration, agriculture, fisheries, energy, environment, climate change and other policies coherent with development objectives in order to benefit developing countries and promote a fair international financial and trade system in favour of development; recalls in this connection Paragraph 35 of the European Consensus for Development, which states that 'it is important that non-development policies assist developing countries' efforts in achieving the MDGs';

43.  Recalls the commitments given by countries which are signatories to the Paris Declaration to perform strategic environmental assessments at sectoral and national level; calls on the Commission, therefore, to respect this objective with a view to assessing the impact of its policies, particularly on climate change, desertification and biodiversity in developing countries;

44.  Stresses that efforts to render aid effective should be accompanied by better information for the citizens of donor countries regarding the aims, methods of implementation and recipients of development aid;

45.  Recalls that the European Consensus for Development recognises gender equality as a goal in its own right, and therefore should be a key area for discussion on aid effectiveness;

46.  Recognises that the agendas of aid quantity and aid quality are inextricably linked, and that for aid effectiveness targets to be met, there must be continued commitment to existing quantity targets as agreed to by all EU Member States; in that regard urges the Commission and the Member States to reconfirm their commitment to achieving their collective target for ODA of 0,56% of GNI in 2010 and 0,7% of GNI in 2015, to scale up aid and to set ambitious multi-annual timetables to measure the gradual rise in aid budgets;

47.  Stresses the importance of including a strong gender perspective at every stage of the programming, implementation, monitoring and evaluation levels;

48.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD, and the national parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 102 E, 24.4.2008, p. 291.
(2) OJ C 306 E, 15.12.2006, p. 373.
(3) OJ C 46, 24.2.2006, p. 1.
(4) Regulation (EC) No. 1905/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation (OJ L 378, 27.12.2006, p. 41).
(5) Joint statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission 'The European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid' signed on 18 December 2007 (OJ C 25, 30.1.2008, p. 1).


Sudan and the International Criminal Court (ICC)
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on Sudan and the International Criminal Court (ICC)
P6_TA(2008)0238RC-B6-0240/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Sudan,

–   having regard to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its entry into force on 1 July 2002,

–   having regard to the adoption of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1593 on 31 March 2005,

–   having regard to the Council Conclusions on Sudan/Chad of 11 December 2007 and 30 January 2008,

–   having regard to the Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the anniversary of the referral of the situation in Darfur/Sudan to the ICC, adopted on 31 March 2008,

–   having regard to the awarding of the 2007 Sakharov Prize to Salih Mahmoud Osman, a Sudanese human rights lawyer working in the Darfur region of Sudan, for his work in trying to obtain justice for the victims of the civil war in Darfur,

–   having regard to the "Justice for Darfur" campaign, which was launched by a large group of non-governmental organisations with the aim of pressing Sudan to cooperate with the ICC and comply with the ICC's arrest warrants,

–   having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the security situation in Darfur remains extremely volatile, and significant clashes have taken place between rebel movements and government forces, affecting humanitarian operations,

B.   deeply shocked at the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who have been beaten, killed, raped, displaced or otherwise victimised in the conflict in Darfur, and noting that the situation has continued to spiral downward since 2003 and that indiscriminate aerial attacks on civilians continue,

C.   whereas the UN "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine provides that where national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations, others have a responsibility to provide the protection needed,

D.   whereas the UN Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC in March 2005, after which an investigation was launched,

E.   whereas Sudan has signed the Rome Statute, which created the ICC in 2002, but has not ratified it,

F.   whereas the Government of Sudan, as a member of the United Nations, is obliged to cooperate with the ICC by virtue of Resolution 1593 (2005), which the Security Council adopted under its Chapter 7 powers,

G.   deeply dismayed by the fact that, since the issuance of the arrest warrants, the Government of Sudan has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the ICC and has indeed multiplied its acts of defiance towards the ICC and the international community,

H.   whereas in April 2007 the ICC issued two arrest warrants against Sudan's former Minister of the Interior Ahmad Harun and former Janjaweed militia leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, also known as "Ali Kushayb", on 51 counts of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity,

I.   whereas Ahmad Harun is now the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and thus responsible for the welfare of the very victims of his alleged crimes, as well as being responsible for liaising with the international peace-keeping force - United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID); whereas he was also promoted to chair of a governmental committee tasked with hearing human rights complaints; and whereas Ali Kushayb – who was in Sudanese custody on other charges at the time the warrants were issued – was released from jail in October 2007 despite being sought by the ICC,

J.   whereas in June 2007 and again in December 2007 the Office of the Prosecutor reported to the UN Security Council the failure and unwillingness of the Sudanese Government to cooperate with the ICC, and noted that no steps had been taken to arrest and surrender Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb,

K.   noting that on 5 June 2008 the ICC's Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, will report for the seventh time to the UN Security Council on the progress of its investigations in Darfur and on the cooperation offered by the Sudanese authorities,

L.   determined to support the ICC at this crucial juncture in its work, and fully convinced that ending impunity for the planners and perpetrators of horrific crimes committed in Darfur is an essential component in the solution to the conflict in Darfur,

M.   whereas on 10 and 11 May 2008 Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels staged an attack on Omdurman, near Khartoum, claiming at least 200 victims,

N.   whereas on 20 May 2008, after a first wave of clashes the week before, heavy fighting erupted in Abyei, an oil-rich town claimed by both north and south, between the Sudanese army and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), resulting in 30 000 to 50 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), according to the UN, and an as yet undetermined number of casualties,

O.   whereas on 4 May 2008 Sudanese army planes bombarded civilian targets in North Darfur, resulting in twelve civilian fatalities,

P.   whereas to date the conflict in Sudan has claimed some 300 000 victims (according to recent UN estimates) and left 2,5 million IDPs and refugees, and whereas insecurity in the Darfur region is on the rise,

Q.   whereas the UNAMID still only has some 7 500 troops and fewer than 2 000 police on the ground, of the 26 000 that have been authorised,

1.  Strongly condemns Sudan's persistent failure to cooperate with the ICC, to arrest and hand over to the ICC Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb and to comply with its international humanitarian law obligations, thus demonstrating blatant disrespect for the hundreds of thousands of victims and their families and the millions of people who have been forced to leave their homes since the beginning of the conflict;

2.  Urges the Sudanese Government to ratify the Statute of the ICC, to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005), to cooperate unconditionally with the ICC, and to pursue a thorough and effective investigation and prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the region of Darfur;

3.  Urges the authorities in Khartoum to arrest and surrender the two ICC suspects without further delay, immediately to break the cycle of impunity in Darfur and to cooperate with future ICC investigations in Darfur;

4.  Calls on the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 16-17 June 2008 and the European Council of 19-20 June 2008 to discuss the ICC's Prosecutor's report and to take steps to adopt targeted EU punitive measures against a clearly identified group of Sudanese officials who bear responsibility for Sudan's non-cooperation with the ICC, including:

   freezing and seizing assets of individuals identified as impeding cooperation with the ICC, and identifying and targeting the offshore assets of businesses affiliated with the National Congress Party (the government majority party), a major conduit for financing militias in Darfur;
   measures denying access to EU banks for any financial transaction or payment made by or on behalf of these individuals;
   measures to prevent business and other economic or trade relations between these individuals, or any legal entity or corporation controlled by them, and European companies, targeting especially the revenue flow from the petroleum sector;

5.  Urges the Member States and candidate countries with a seat on the UN Security Council – i.e. Belgium, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Croatia – to take a principled stance during the Prosecutor's briefing on 5 June 2008, in compliance with the EU Common Position on the ICC, and to respond appropriately to the Prosecutor's findings by calling on Sudan to comply immediately with UN Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005) and with the ICC's requests;

6.  Calls on all other States represented at the UN Security Council to support any cooperation request put forward by the ICC Prosecutor on behalf of the Court and, in particular, calls on China, Russia, South Africa and Libya to follow through on their own words under Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005) and not to obstruct the Security Council's action on 5 June 2008;

7.  Urges the Member States and the UN Security Council to push for a specific mention of impunity and inclusion of the ICC arrest warrants in the formal terms of reference for the forthcoming visit by the UN Security Council to Khartoum at the end of May 2008;

8.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that their substantial development aid to Sudan is not delivered via Ahmad Harun's Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and urges donors formally to press the Government of Sudan to remove Ahmad Harun from office;

9.  Calls on the EU to exert pressure on China to join the international efforts to end the conflict and to use its considerable leverage on the Government of Sudan based on its role as the main provider of income for the Government of Sudan from oil sales; urges China to stop delivering weapons to Sudan;

10.  Calls on the African Union and the Arab League to engage actively in Darfur by pressing the Government of Sudan to cooperate with the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor in the current and future investigations, and calls on the EU Presidency to place Sudan's cooperation with the ICC on the agenda for political dialogues and summits with key partners such as China, the United States, the African Union and the Arab League;

11.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to keep the Parliament regularly informed of their current and future efforts to press the Government of Sudan to cooperate with the ICC, and undertakes to remain informed on the matter and to use all available opportunities to raise the issue with both Sudanese officials and other partners;

12.  Condemns the JEM rebel attacks on Omdurman on 10 and 11 May 2008, as well as the 4 May aerial bombing in North Darfur, which killed 12 people, wounded another 30 and destroyed a school, a water installation and a market;

13.  Expresses serious concern over the renewed fighting between the Sudanese army and the SPLA in Abyei, which is increasing humanitarian needs and hampering humanitarian operations, and could potentially jeopardise the 2005 peace agreement;

14.  Condemns any violation of the peace and ceasefire agreements by any party, and in particular any violence directed towards the civilian population and the targeting of humanitarian assistance;

15.  Calls on the Sudanese authorities, notably the Government of National Unity, to lend their full support to the effective establishment of UNAMID, and support all efforts to generate stability and create a secure environment;

16.  Stresses once again that there can be no lasting peace without justice for serious crimes; calls on EU observers at the peace talks to stress the importance of ending impunity in building sustained respect for the rule of law and human rights in Sudan;

17.  Calls upon the Government of Sudan and all armed groups to respect human rights and international humanitarian law by refraining from any indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including sexual violence against women;

18.  Calls on all the parties involved in the conflict to refrain from the recruitment and use of child soldiers under the age of 18, and calls on the Sudanese authorities to protect displaced children, especially unaccompanied minors, as laid down in the relevant conventions;

19.  Calls further on all third parties to cease exporting arms to all parties involved in the conflict in the region and to uphold respect for human rights and international peace and security in their relations with Sudan;

20.  Is concerned at reports of mass arrests in Khartoum following the rebel attack; reminds the Government of Sudan of its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples" Rights, according to which, inter alia, no one may be arbitrarily arrested or detained and every individual has the right to a defence and to be tried within a reasonable time;

21.  Urges the EU Special Representative for Sudan, Pekka Haavisto, in keeping with his mandate and with the EU Common Position on the ICC, to take a proactive role and use all available opportunities to raise with Sudanese interlocutors and other partners the need immediately to arrest and surrender Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb and to cooperate with the ICC, and calls on the Special Representative to report regularly to the other EU institutions on developments in that regard;

22.  Expresses deep concern over the serious shortfalls in UNAMID resources and calls on the African Union member states and the international community to increase their contributions so as to allow the urgent deployment of further troops and equipment to Darfur;

23.  Urges the Sudanese Government to respect its commitment to a moratorium on restrictions and obstacles to all humanitarian workers; underlines that the escalation in violence over the past month has also impacted on humanitarian operations, as banditry and hijackings have led to lost aid supplies, recently forcing food agencies to halve rations to more than three million needy people in Darfur;

24.  Calls on the EU and other international actors to apply appropriate measures that target any perpetrators of violence who violate the ceasefire or attack civilians, peacekeepers or humanitarian operations, and to take all necessary action to help end impunity;

25.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the EU Special Representative for Sudan, the Government of Sudan, the governments of the Member States and the members of the UN Security Council, the African Union institutions, the Arab League institutions and the Prosecutor of the ICC.


The arrest of political opponents in Belarus
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on the arrest of political opponents in Belarus
P6_TA(2008)0239RC-B6-0239/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Belarus, in particular that of 21 February 2008(1),

–   having regard to the Commission's declaration on 21 November 2006 of the European Union's readiness to renew its relationship with Belarus and its people within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP),

–   having regard to the EU Presidency Declaration of 28 March 2008 on Belarus,

–   having regard to the EU Presidency statement of 29 April 2008 on the renewed imprisonment and harassment of political opponents in Belarus,

–   having regard to EU Presidency statement of 6 May 2008 on the recent developments in the relationship between Belarus and the United States,

–   having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas two Belarusian pro-democratic activists, Andrei Kim and Siarhei Parsyukevich, have been given harsh sentences for taking part in peaceful entrepreneurs' demonstrations on 10 and 21 January 2008,

B.   whereas the continued detention of Aliaksandr Kazulin is a further example of Belarus's disregard for its obligations to respect the principles and commitments of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), of which Belarus is a member,

C.   whereas it has called on the Council and the Commission to make proposals to put further pressure on Lukashenko's regime within international organisations and has demanded that a complete package of specific, targeted sanctions – severely punishing the perpetrators of oppression without adding to the suffering of the citizens of Belarus – be put forward,

D.   whereas it has condemned the use of violence and arrests of large numbers of participants on the occasion of Freedom Day in Minsk and other Belarusian cities on 25 March 2008,

E.   whereas the decision of the government of Belarus to declare 10 United States diplomats personae non gratae and the forced expulsion of the US Ambassador to Belarus are measures that are unjustified and harmful to the interests of the people of Belarus,

1.  Deeply regrets that the situation of democracy, human rights and the rule of law is not improving in Belarus; points out that constant arbitrary arrests of members of civil society and opposition activists, notably the recent temporary detention and trial of Aleksander Milinkevich, and the clampdown on the independent media, contradict the recent rhetoric of the Belarusian government concerning their wish to improve relations with the European Union;

2.  Condemns the harsh sentences given to Syarhei Parsyukevich and Andrei Kim on 22 and 23 April 2008 in Minsk for their participation in the entrepreneurs' rally of 10 January 2008; at the same time, deplores the reportedly excessive force used by Belarusian security forces against and the arrests of peaceful citizens gathered in Minsk on 25 March 2008 to mark the ninetieth anniversary of the Foundation of the Independent Belarusian People's Republic; calls on the Belarusian authorities to unconditionally abstain from all use of force against the representatives of the democratic opposition;

3.  Urges the Belarusian authorities to release immediately and unconditionally the remaining political prisoner, Aliaksandr Kazulin, and to cease using intimidation, harassment, targeted arrests and politically motivated prosecutions against the activists of the democratic opposition and civil society in Belarus;

4.  Reiterates that compliance with democratic principles is the key issue for the normalisation of relations with Belarus;

5.  Condemns the detention of independent media journalists, searches of their homes and confiscation or destruction of their equipment by Belarusian secret services (KGB) and condemns efforts made by the Belarusian authorities to violate the freedom of the media;

6.  Requests the Council and the Commission to provide substantial support for the victims of human rights violation in Belarus; takes the view that increased financial assistance to civil society organisations, in particular free media, is necessary for the promotion of human rights in the country;

7.  Recalls that on 21 November 2006 the European Union declared its readiness to renew its relationship with Belarus and its people within the framework of the ENP as soon as the Belarusian government demonstrated respect for democratic values and for the fundamental rights of the Belarusian people;

8.  Emphasises that, in order to engage in any substantial dialogue with the EU, Belarus needs to fulfil the remaining conditions laid down in the Commission's 'Non Paper' entitled 'What the European Union could bring to Belarus', which include the release of all political prisoners, the abolition of the death penalty, an assurance of a free media and freedom of expression, the independence of the judiciary and respect for democratic values and for the fundamental rights of the Belarusian people;

9.  Condemns the fact that Belarus is the only country in Europe which still has the death penalty, contrary to European and universal values;

10.  Deeply regrets the 2002 Law on Freedom of Religion and Religious Organisations, which contravenes international principles of religious freedom and human rights, including those laid out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and recognises that as result of this legislation, the activities of many religious communities have been restricted and their leaders are being subjected to constant harassment, prosecution, fines, and imprisonment;

11.  Urges the Belarusian authorities fully to implement OSCE standards in the organisation of the forthcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for autumn 2008, and to create the conditions for a free and fair ballot; calls on the government of Belarus to give democratic opposition representatives free access to district electoral commissions, to grant registration to all parliamentary candidates and their observers, and not to create obstacles to a comprehensive and complete international election observation mission;

12.  Calls on the Belarusian government to uphold and ensure the protection of all fundamental human rights and ensure Belarus' compliance with international standards, and in particular with Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);

13.  Calls on the Belarusian government to revise the 2002 Law on Freedom of Religion and Religious Organisations and to restore procedures guaranteeing respect for freedom of religion;

14.  Expresses solidarity with the united democratic opposition of Belarus and all Belarusian citizens who strive for an independent, open and democratic Belarus based on the rule of law; encourages the leaders of the opposition to demonstrate unity and resolve in the forthcoming parliamentary elections;

15.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to take further steps towards the facilitation and liberalisation of visa procedures for Belarusian citizens, as only such action can help to fulfil the main goal of EU policy towards Belarus, namely to facilitate and intensify people- to-people contacts and to democratise that country; urges them, in this context, to consider the possibilities for lowering the cost of visas for Belarusian citizens entering the Schengen territory, which is the only way to prevent Belarus and its citizens from becoming increasingly isolated;

16.  Deplores the Belarusian authorities' repeated refusal to grant entry visas to Members of the European Parliament and national parliamentarians in the last couple of years; calls on the Belarusian authorities not to create any further obstacles preventing the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Belarus from visiting the country to observe the forthcoming general elections and obtain first-hand experience in Belarus;

17.  Expresses its solidarity with the United States and its diplomatic service, and calls on the government of Belarus to reconsider its decision and to take immediate steps allowing for a normalisation of the relationship between Belarus and the United States on the basis of mutually beneficial cooperation;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Parliamentary Assemblies of the OSCE and the Council of Europe, and the government of Belarus.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0071.


Rising tension in Burundi
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European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2008 on the rising tension in Burundi
P6_TA(2008)0240RC-B6-0241/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Burundi,

–   having regard to the Dar-es-Salaam Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement between the government of Burundi and the National Liberation Forces (FNL), signed on 7 September 2006,

–   having regard to the Action Plan adopted in Cape Town on 22 to 23 February 2008 (the Action Plan),

–   having regard to the Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union concerning the attacks at Bujumbura, of 23 April 2008,

–   having regard to the statement by the President of the UN Security Council on the situation in Burundi, of 24 April 2008,

–   having regard to the reports by the UN Secretary-General on the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi,

–   having regard to the report by Human Rights Watch entitled "Every Morning They Beat Me: Police Abuses in Burundi", of April 2008,

–   having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas since 17 April 2008 fighting has again erupted between government troops and the FNL in Burundi, forcing thousands of civilians to flee their homes and resulting in the deaths of 50 rebel fighters,

B.   whereas after 14 years of civil war Burundi has yet to establish a lasting peace, while the conflict has created a critical humanitarian and socio-economic situation that endangers regional stability,

C.   whereas over the past two years international efforts to establish a peace agreement between the Burundian Government and the FNL – including the Regional Peace Initiative on Burundi – have been unsuccessful,

D.   whereas negotiations between the Burundian Government and the FNL broke down in July 2007 when the FNL walked out of the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM) created to oversee implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement,

E.   whereas the continuing insurgency by the FNL is seen by many as the final barrier to lasting stability in Burundi, and a political solution is needed in order to secure the disarmament of the FNL,

F.   whereas in early May 2008, the foreign ministers of Tanzania and Uganda, meeting under the auspices of the Regional Peace Initiative on Burundi, urged the FNL and other senior rebel leaders to leave Tanzania where they are based and to travel to Burundi to enter into peace talks,

G.   whereas attacks were launched in August 2007 against the homes of political figures who were not supporters, or who were former supporters, of the President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza,

H.   whereas 46 Members of the Burundian Parliament, fearing for their physical safety, have written to the UN Secretary-General to request United Nations protection,

I.   whereas the European Union has chosen Burundi as a pilot country for the implementation of a priority Action Plan aimed at increasing the speed and efficiency of assistance to developing countries that are in a precarious state,

J.   whereas over 700 households (around 3 500 people) are said to be in the care of the authorities at present, awaiting food and emergency supplies,

K.   whereas the latest bout of fighting is part of a series of clashes which have left even more households (35 000 people) displaced, bringing the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to over 100 000; whereas Tanzania wants to return its Burundian refugees to Burundi, while Burundi is still taking in thousands of Rwandan and Congolese refugees,

L.   whereas it is alleged that Burundi's security forces have illegally detained around 200 people accused of supporting FNL rebels,

M.   whereas on 2 May 2008 the Burundian Government reported that four rebel fighters and one Burundian soldier had died in what was described as an FNL-initiated ambush,

N.   whereas the climate of impunity in Burundi has created a situation where torture by the police and security forces is rife, as is illegal detention,

O.   whereas the Burundi national police force, established under a transitional government in 2004, is not well trained and is made up of former rebels and soldiers as well as police officers,

P.   whereas UNICEF assisted in the demobilisation of over 3 000 child soldiers in Burundi between 2004 and 2006; whereas children recently escaped from a demobilisation centre and went on the rampage, and over 500 children are still in the hands of the FNL,

Q.   whereas Burundi was the third country, after Uganda and Ethiopia, to contribute to the African Union peacekeeping mission to Somalia based in Mogadishu (AMISOM), by sending 800 soldiers despite the precarious security situation in Burundi,

1.  Expresses serious concern at the recent military confrontations in Burundi between the National Defence Forces and the FNL, which have resulted in the loss of innocent lives;

2.  Calls on all parties to respect the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement resume negotiations and move swiftly to implement the JVMM established following the ceasefire;

3.  Urges in particular the FNL, and its leader Agathon Rwasa, to engage constructively in the peace process;

4.  Calls on the states neighbouring Burundi to ensure they do not serve as bases for the rebel movement, and welcomes Tanzania's decision to cease acting as a haven for FNL leaders;

5.  Calls on the Commission to draw up measures to facilitate the reintegration of former FNL fighters into society once an agreement is signed;

6.  Calls on the Commission to step up its humanitarian assistance, including for refugees and IDPs, and to scale down such assistance only when it is replaced by tangible development actions, in order to ensure a smooth transition between humanitarian operations and development policies;

7.  Calls on donors to honour their undertakings and ensure closer upstream coordination, in order to increase aid effectiveness;

8.  Calls on the Commission to propose a swift and significant increase in the financial resources which the European Union grants to Burundi, notably on the occasion of the mid-term review of the tenth European Development Fund;

9.  Calls on the Commission, in view of the fragility of Burundi and within the framework of the much-needed Action Plan, to give priority support to:

   programmes for better governance and democratic state management;
   health policies, through the creation of health centres and the essential renewal of the hospital network;
   the decision by the Burundian Government to provide free primary education;
   the continuing efforts to renew the infrastructure in Burundi;

10.  Insists, in view of the urgency of the situation, that the emphasis should be placed on tangible actions visible to the people of Burundi;

11.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to reinforce their presence on the ground in Burundi;

12.  Calls on the Commission to promote actions by NGOs and local authorities in the European Union aimed at assisting local authorities and civil society in Burundi;

13.  Reaffirms its support for the South African facilitation and for the regional initiatives, and remains resolved, as part of the political directorate, to play an active part in removing obstacles to implementation of the Action Plan and to assist in all efforts to reactivate negotiations and consolidate peace in Burundi; supports also the mediation efforts of the UN Commission for the Consolidation of Peace;

14.  Notes the greater stability that has come to Burundi since the entry into force of a new constitution followed by general elections, but calls for the establishment of a peace and reconciliation commission as a confidence-building measure that will help restore a climate of confidence and stability among the various interested parties, and calls on the governments of the Member States to support such an initiative financially and logistically;

15.  Calls on the Burundian Government to take immediate action to ensure respect for the rule of law, end the climate of impunity, ensure that perpetrators of abuses are brought to justice and improve the training of the police force;

16.  Welcomes the recent release of 232 children, following eight months of negotiations with a dissident faction of the FNL by, inter alia, the Burundian Government, civil society and UN agencies;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Security Council, the African Union, the governments and parliaments of the states situated in the African Great Lakes region and South Africa.

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